‘Drumline Live’ completely spectacular

Pittsburgh audience members who expected to see drummers during the recent performance of “Drumline Live” at the Benedum Center got a totally unexpected show complete with singers, dancers, musicians and of course, the drumline.

The stop in Pittsburgh was a part of the show’s second U.S. Tour for the 2010-2011 season. It brings together a group of versatile musicians and dancers who brought talent, energy and athleticism to multiple genres of music like hip-hop, R&B, classic Motown and gospel.

(Photo by Rossano P. Stewart)

All of the 40 musicians and performers were students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Most are students at Florida A&M University although Spellman College, Hampton University and Shaw University were also represented.

“Drumline Live” was co-created by Donald Roberts, as a way to bring the Historically Black College and University football game haltime show to the masses.

“People think they’re coming to see people playing in a band but you get Africa, Miles Davis and everything in the show,” Roberts said.

The show, which was separated into two acts showed the progression of music from the 1960’s to modern day by way of music, song, dance and history.

Roberts came up with the idea for “Drumline Live” after being appointed as the executive band consultant for the hit movie, “Drumline” which starred Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones. Roberts was responsible for training the actors, writing the percussion drills, and rehearsing the band.

Roberts’ dedication and passion for exemplary musicianship is evident in the amazing concert, which is “Drumline Live.”

Act I included audiences being treated to musicians performing songs by great soul singers like Tina Turner, Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson.

“American Soul music is a unique genre that is still popular today,” explained Slater Thorpe who served as the host of “Drumline Live.” “Soul Music became the fabric of American culture.”

Other highlights of Act One included a Jabbawockeez-style medley of P. Diddy’s “Hello, Good Morning” and Usher’s “Oh My Gosh” and a rousing gospel tribune where the musicians and singers were clad in white choir robes belting out gospel classics like “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

“Let’s pass the peace in here and shake somebody’s hand,” said Thorpe as members of “Drumline Live” scattered throughout the audience and shook people’s hands.

Act II showcased a jook-joint style nightspot where the musicians played and dancers swayed to strains of singers of the time period like Count Bassie.

Those audience members who wanted to experience part of the Historically Black Colleges and University’s football halftime show were given their wish with a tribute to the iconic halftime extravaganza that has been made famous across the country.

The stage show ended with a dazzling choreographed routine to some of the hottest hip-hop and R&B of the 80s and today.

Members of the band played more music for the audience in the lobby of the Benedum center. After they finished playing, band members remained in the lobby to personally meet with audience members and thank them for coming to see “Drumline Live.”

“We’re glad to be here to perform for you,” Thorpe said. “We travel all over the world and for a period of time we come together to do what God has put us here to do.”

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