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Ruff is Ready
By Olivia C. Campbell
JOMC Journal Reporter
Nothing else gets a crowd fired up and out of their seats like the impending boom of bass drums signifying the approach of the Blue and Gold Marching Machine of North Carolina A&T State University. These warriors of halftime have a long history of groundbreaking and memorable performances, but most will agree that its biggest feat in recent years is landing a performance spot in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Not only will it be the only marching band from North Carolina, but also the only HBCU band to perform in New York City Thanksgiving morning.
A band as popular and exciting as the BGMM cannot be successful and effective without the guidance of a strong director. Someone who is not only knowledgeable in the art of music, but also the ability to lead, teach, and control a large group of feisty young adults with personalities that spread across the spectrum. Someone with a clear vision of what they want and how they plan on getting there.
That someone is Kenneth Ruff, Ph.D.
Affectionately known as “Daddy Ruff”, Ruff has been the director of bands of the BGMM for nine years, but his involvement with the band did not start there. He is a former member and drum major of the band, and after graduating from NC A&T became a member of the BGMM Staff, serving as a director as well as auxiliary coordinator during his tenure. Ruff also joined the Iota Beta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity Inc., as well as a charter member of the Iota Zeta chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi National Band Fraternity Inc. In all, Ruff has given almost 30 years of his life to the BGMM.
Ironically, Ruff did not see himself as a band director when he was younger. He began studying music in elementary school, but saw himself anywhere but in a band room after college. But he believes God called him to where he is today, and says he will not leave until he accomplishes whatever God’s will is for him.
Students who have marched in the band under Ruff admire and love him, despite his no-nonsense attitude.
“Dr. Ruff is a really good person… He’s always, you know, a little bit on edge sometimes but… you learn to deal with him as time goes by,” says Wynica Smith, a senior sousaphone player from Greenville, S.C. “But all in all he’s a really good person and I respect him a lot.”
“He’s easy to talk to, especially if you have problems,” says Vivlica Rodgers, a junior tenor sax player from Washington, N.C. “He tries to help everyone out in the band. And I love him!”
The idea of performing for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade came to Ruff about six years ago. After submitting an application, a performance résumé, and video of the band performing, Ruff received confirmation that the BGMM was chosen to perform in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the spring of 2011, and announced it on a local news station in front of Williams Cafeteria during drum major tryouts.
Since that day, the BGMM has raised money to offset the nearly $500,000 Macy’s budget through car washes, yard sales, partnerships with local restaurants, raffles, and monetary donations from the community and alumni.
Now that Ruff has crossed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade off of its bucket list, what’s next?
“Retirement,” Ruff replied quickly with a chuckle. “No, I’d like to do a Superbowl performance, take the band overseas somewhere…a music cruise, just different things. All kinds of performance opportunities.”
For more information on how to donate toward the Blue and Gold Marching Machine’s Macy’s Parade Fund, call (336)334-7776 or visit www.ncat.edu/giving.
Who says political parties can’t be fun?
By Kayla Jackson
Imagine a concert-like atmosphere full of youth, politics, music, and ice cream underneath a graffiti bypass. That’s what occurredd two days ago with “Show of Hands,” an event created “to bring awareness to the election by way of a party,” according to event organizers. “Show of Hands ” event is a three way-collaboration sponsored by Face to Face, SynerG and the Greensboro Jaycees. Last year, 200 people attended the event in downtown Greensboro. This year 200 people showed up within the first few hours, and many more were expected to come, according to Donovan Mcknight, who organized the event geared for the demographic ages 18-39.
Several musical performances were staged by Rapsody, King Mez, Chris Lane Band, Estrangers, Miss Eaves, Lin Japanese and Grammy award-winning artist 9th Wonder. Political booths for the Greensboro Libertarian Party and the Romney Ryan Campaign of Greensboro also were spotted. Local political candidates got in the act, too, with campaign paraphernalia spread everywhere.
To learn more about the three sponsoring organizations, visit their websites:
JOMC Journal Reporter Katherine Witt discusses the plight of undocumented workers and immigrants during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
A group dedicated to improving health is providing pedal buses and health screenings for people attending the Democratic National Convention. JOMC Journal reporter Errin Diggs describes Free Wheeling’s efforts to keep convention-goers healthy throughout the week. Click here or the photo to learn more.
More than 600 bloggers and independent journalists from throughout the world are covering the Democratic National Convention three blocks from Time Warner Cable Arena.The event is organized by a group called The PPL (People). Lauren Everett reports on what they’ve been doing and how they’re doing it.
One of the reasons behind President Barack Obama’s 2008 election was the youth vote. According the Pew Research Center, voters under age 30 have given the Democratic Party a majority of their votes in the last three presidential elections. Vernetta Jenkins spoke with John Campbell, 23, who represents the youthful voters Obama hopes will help him secure a second term.
President Barack Obama was scheduled to deliver his nomination speech from the Bank of America Stadium on Thursday evening. But DNC organizers decided to switch the venue back to Time Warner Cable Arena–the site of the convention–because of weather concerns. Ian-Mitchell Dear caught the reaction of one Charlotte resident after hearing the news.