History And Achievements

History And Achievements


The Virginia State University Trojan Explosion is comprised of instrumentalists, Essence of Troy Dancers, Satin Divas Flag, and Troy Elegance Twirlers.


The famed “Marching 110,” was built during the leadership of Dr. F. Nathaniel Pops Gatlin and Dr. Claiborne T. Richardson (1954 – 1973, Drill Master and Assistant Conductor to Dr. Nathaniel Gatlin). The marching band expanded during the leadership of Dr. O’Neill Sanford (1973 – 1976) as the “Sounds of Distinction”. Other Directors include Mr. Richard Wilson (1976 – 1977), Mr. Moses Hall (1977 – 1980), and Dr. Victor Herbert (1980 – 1984).


In 1984 seventeen students showed up for the first day of practice when Harold J. Haughton, Sr. became director; after leaving his 180 member band at Jackson State University, The Sonic Boom of the South. Accompanied by arranger James Holden, Jr., they made major changes in order to return the band to greatness. The marching band was renamed the “Trojan Explosion” and the music department began to grow. Shortly thereafter, Sylvester Bullock was added to the staff as Assistant Director. After 19 years of teaching, Harold “Big Whistle” Haughton, Sr. retired in 2003 with the distinction of Professor and Director of Bands Emeritus.


From 2003-2013, Dr. Mark W. Phillips served as Director of Bands and under his leadership the Trojan Explosion Marching Band was selected to attend the Honda Battle of the Bands 9 consecutive years. In addition to numerous accolades and achievements, the drum line performed at the White House for President Barack Obama during the signing of the HBCU Funding Bill.


In 2013, Professor James Holden, Jr. became Director of Bands. In addition to serving as Director of the world renowned VSU Gospel Chorale, Professor Holden has served as Assistant Director of Bands since 1984. Arguably one of the top arrangers in the country, Professor Holden is known throughout the musical world as an exquisite saxophonist.