Band camp brings HBCU experience to Twin Cities

At many historically Black colleges and universities, the marching band is a bigger attraction at sporting events than the teams themselves. Now some HBCU graduates are bringing some of that culture to kids here in Minnesota.

"I'm excited. I'm happy to be able to provide this opportunity and experience to the students," said Northside United Summer Band Camp co-founder D-Shonte Carter.

Carter grew up in Robbinsdale and attended Virginia State University where she played the snare drum in the marching band.

A couple of years ago, she and two other HBCU alumni started the Northside United Summer Band Camp at North High School. For two weeks in July, they teach 5th through 12th graders how to play instruments, dance and other show-style marching band techniques that are popular at many HCBUs.

"They play the top 40 songs. Drumline features and playing and dancers having their features, infusing jazz, modern, cheerleading all into one," said Carter.

The camp culminates with a community performance where the students get to strut their stuff in front of family and friends. The goal is to not only expose young people to a popular pastime at HBCUs but also the possibility of attending one as well.

"It was hard at first. I'm glad the teachers there pushed me. I thought I wouldn't be able to do that but I did and it was really cool," said 13-year-old Imani Slater, who took part in the camp.

Carter hopes to eventually get funding to provide the free marching band camp to students year round, so she can open their eyes to show-style band like her mentor did for her.

"People that look like you. They are being excellent. They are excellent. They are playing instruments. They are dancing. They are doing drumlines and doing it very well, just to show the students, you can do this too," said Carter.