It was only as recently as 1969 that the University of Alabama at Birmingham became an independent institution of learning—one of three universities within the University of Alabama system. UAB developed as an outgrowth of the University Extension Center and the Medical Center of Birmingham. Today, UAB is a comprehensive urban university with a nationally recognized academic health center. UAB is the only public, four-year degree granting university in the state’s largest metropolitan area. UAB is the largest research institution in the state of Alabama and the university is the largest employer in Birmingham. But UAB is much more than research, science, and math—our arts and humanities programs offer our students a more broad and full education and a rich campus life experience.
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, instrumental music at UAB fell under the umbrella of the School of Arts and Humanities and included a pep band for basketball games and a small wind ensemble. However, with the development of a football program at UAB, the University saw a need to have a marching band. In the early 1990’s, UAB started its football program—in 1991, fielding an NCAA Division III team, and only two short years later, an NCAA Division I team. On September 17, 1994, the 135-member UAB Marching Blazers performed at their first home football game under the direction of Dr. Clifford “Ski” Winter.
Since that time, the UAB Bands have continued to grow and excel. With the growth of the Marching Blazers—now over 200 strong–our other program offerings have grown as well. The UAB Wind Symphony is comprised of our University’s strongest instrumental musicians. The group has performed at state and national conferences and enjoys a wonderful reputation for high quality music-making of exceptional wind band literature. The UAB Symphony Band was created in 2006 to give our talented musicians another venue outside of marching band for great music-making. The Blazer Band continues to support UAB Men’s and Ladies’ basketball with high-energy music, enthusiasm and class. Jazz Bands, Percussion Ensembles, and numerous other instrumental ensembles afford the UAB musician incredible opportunities for music-making.
In March of 2013, the Marching Blazers travelled to Ireland to represent our program, our school, our state, and our country in our first international appearance. The band celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by marching for tens of thousands of people in an enthusiastic crowd on the streets of Dublin. In addition, the Marching Blazers competed in the Limerick International Band Competition and were named “Best International Band” on that same trip. With such tremendous success and fantastic memories made by the members of the Marching Blazers, there is now a positive precedence set for more international travel in the future. The Marching Blazers are the musical ambassadors of UAB and will continue to spread the message of our University: