Exclusive: Atlanta band members talk about Coachella performance - CBS46 News

Exclusive: Atlanta band members talk about Coachella performance with Beyonce

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

There aren't many people who can honestly say they've performed on stage next to Beyonce. But, a group of Atlanta musicians and dancers can say that and more.

Beyonce’s team selected the group of Atlanta musicians and dancers after seeing them perform in the Atlanta-based "Drumline Live" production. 

"Drumline Live," led by Don Roberts, the director of instrumental music for DeKalb County Schools is a live adaptation of the hit movie, “Drumline,” filmed with Atlanta bands-- an effort led in part by Roberts.

The professional musicians are still on cloud nine after keeping the biggest secret of their lives.

Rashaad Horne, a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School and Florida A&M University, says he randomly got a call from Roberts, his former band director, asking if he could take off work for two weeks. That two-week request turned into a month and a half. With blind faith, Horne said 'yes.'

“I didn't know what it was for, or who it was for until we got to L.A. and then it was like you're going to be performing for her!” Horne told CBS46’s Hayley Mason.

“It's a dream, on my vision board, like every vision board I've ever had, the queen is on there,” said Naderah Munajj, a Florida A&M University Alumna.

Munajj is a professional dancer by trade, but learned cymbals for the show. She was the only woman in the drumline. It’s a position that almost didn't happen for her. She tells CBS46, she wasn’t selected initially as a dancer. She was devastated. Later, she got a call to join the Drumline Live band as an alternate.

“When I got to perform in front of her, and I am next to all these percussionists that do this professionally, it hit me in that moment,” Munajj said. “I had to show up; so, I mixed in a little of my technique as a dancer with it and it hit me in that moment, that this is real, and she started hyping me with it, like, “yeah, go girl,” and I was like, “really, yes!” We are here, and I was able to stay because of that,” Munajj recalls of her performance for Beyonce.

Nathaniel Spencer, the sousaphone player in the group, was the last musician to join. He got a call from Roberts a couple weeks into practices.

“He said, “hey, I’ve got a big surprise for you. He eventually told me what it was over the phone, because it was just too big. By the time I got there, these guys had already been there for weeks, and I played the catchup role. I had to learn the music and learn the moves,” Spencer said. “That was one of the best things about it, being able to network and play with people that I’ve been playing with for years. It was just an amazing experience," added Spencer, a graduate of Martin Luther King Jr. High School and Alabama State University.  

Each band member can recall a moment when they became star struck on stage with "Queen Bey," but only briefly.

“We were in the middle and we turn and look at her like, “oh crap, that's really her. Like that's her,” Horne said. “I almost forgot play for a second,” he said about one moment in rehearsal.

DeKalb County was all over the Coachella stage, renamed by many fans as the “Beychella” stage. The performers graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School, Martin Luther King Jr. High School, Clarkston High School. Many attended historically black colleges and university's, (HBCU’s), like Florida A&M University, Alabama State University, and Bethune Cookman University.

They were honored to bring the culture of HBCU’s to such a large stage and to a new audience.

“A lot of the culture of the HBCU is not on the west coast,” said Dasmyn Grigsby an alum of Southwest DeKalb High and Bethune Cookman University. “So, for us to one be the liaison of HBCU's and to be from the south and to be from Atlanta, it was a big deal.”

"On campus, you walk up to someone you don't know on campus and becomes that whole comradery, and we brought that energy into the rehearsal space," Munajj said. "So before everything was said and done, we were all a huge family. That was very impactful for me and watching that whole dynamic change and how we brought that energy in there and brought that HBCU flavor, and being from Atlanta, you know it's that southern hospitality always kicks in," she went on.

For Atlanta, for DeKalb, and for marching bands, the showcase is more than the group could've ever expected.

“I've been doing music since the 5th grade,” said Jacques Bell a graduate of Clarkston High School and The University of Georgia. “I’ve been studying. I have a degree in music education from the University of Georgia. This is a really passion for me.”

“I really think that movie “Drumline” really opened the door for people who weren't in band that go to the games, but they just wonder how it is. I think it gave a slight insight of what goes on with us. That movie opened the door and everybody wants to do marching bands now,” Horne said.

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