Dr. William P. Foster was a fellow of the Rosenwald General Education Board at Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1953-1955 for Doctorate Studies. He received his Bachelor of Music Education Degree from the University of Kansas in 1941, the Master of Arts in Music Degree from Wayne State University in 1950, and a Doctor of Education Degree with a major in music from Teachers College, Columbia University in 1955, and the Honorary Doctor of Human Letters Degree in 1998 from Florida A&M University.
Dr. Foster, the creator of the world famous Florida A&M University Marching "100" Band, began his walk to fame at FAMU in June 1946. His creation, the internationally famous 329 piece FAMU Marching Band, for which he created more than 200 half-time pageants, has appeared in three films, three commercials, numerous magazine and newspaper articles, 60 Minutes, 20/20 and PM Magazine telecasts and thirty-four nationally televised performances on all networks with a viewing audience of over five billion people. The FAMU Marching Band was presented the prestigious Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy on October 26, 1984.
In 1989 the French chose Dr. Foster and his band as America's official representative in the Bastille Day Parade, celebrating the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. In January 27, 1996, the FAMU Marching Band was the center-piece of the Opening Ceremonies of the Walt Disney Indy 200. The Band was also the featured attraction at the Fifteenth and Twenty-fifth Anniversary National Telecast of Walt Disney World in 1986 and 1996. In January 1993 and 1997, the band appeared in the inaugural parade of President Bill Clinton.
Dr. Foster is credited with revolutionizing marching band techniques and reshaping the world's concept of the collegiate marching bands. He is credited with being the driving force behind the nation's most innovative college band; revolutionizing marching band techniques, and reshaping the world's concept of the collegiate marching bands. He has been labeled the Law, the Maestro, musical and organizing genius, the greatest band director in the country, trend and pacesetter, and creator. He is the former director of the prestigious McDonald's All-American High School Band (1980-1992).
Dr. Foster has written 18 articles for professional journals, 4 published marching band shows, and the textbook, Band Pageantry, considered "The Bible" for the marching band. He is the composer of Marche Brillante, National Honors March, March Continental, and Centennial Celebration.
Dr. Foster is the first recipient of the United States Achievement Academy Hall of Fame Award and the Outstanding Educator Award presented by the School of Education Society of the University of Kansas Alumni Association. In 1992, Sports Illustrated declared the 100 as the best marching band in the country. In 1998 he was inducted as a Great Floridian by the Museum of Florida History.
President Bill Clinton nominated and the United States Congress approved Dr. Foster as a member of the National Council on the Arts. Dr. Foster is a member of the Hall of Fame of the following organizations: Music Educators National Conference; the Florida Music Educators Association, Florida A&M University Sports, the National High School Band Directors, and the Afro-American Hall of Fame.
He is a Board member with G. Leblanc Corporation, John Philip Sousa Foundation, International Music Festival, Inc., and the Marching Musician. On December 17, 1998 the Board of Electors in Chicago, Illinois elected Dr. William P. Foster to the National Band Association Hall of Fame for Distinguished Band Conductors. This is the most prestigious honor a bandmaster can receive.
Dr. William P. Foster is recognized as The Dean of America's Band Directors.
William P. Foster, Ed. D, Professor and Chairman Emeritus, retired after serving Florida A&M University for fifty-two years. On August 9, 1998, Dr. Foster assumed the position of Eminent Professor, Chairman of the Music Department Emeritus and Director of Bands Emeritus.
As past President of the Florida Music Educators' Association, the college Band Directors' National Association and the American Bandmasters' Association, he entered his second year of quarterly meetings of the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC.
The Florida History Associates inducted him as a "Great Floridian" in a ceremony at the Tallahassee/Leon Country Civic Center.At the 1998 Summer Commencement Exercises, Dr. Foster was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by President Frederick S. Humphries.
Dr. Foster received "The 1998 Distinguished Leader of the Year Award" from the Board of Governors Leadership Tallahassee/Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. He was alos featured in a two-part series on WFSU's "Your Voice TV Talk Show" entitled: Florida A&M University-The Mind Behind the Vision of the FAMU Marching Band", which aired frequently during the fall of 1998. The William P. Foster Foundation Inc. has been established to assist in supporting the operations of the FAMU Marching and Symphonic Bands.
The Florida Music Educators' Association and the Southern Division of the MENC read a proclamation honoring Dr. Foster at the opening of the 1999 Annual Clinic-Conference. The Board of Directors of the National Association for the Study and Performance of African-American Music selected Dr. Foster as one of its National Award recipients in 1999. The career of Dr. Foster was featured in the autumn 1998 issue of Leblanc Magazine, in four videos, and in a national documentary devoted to him which aired on NBC's "Today Show" on July 9, 1998.
The Man Behind the Baton Dr. William Patrick Foster Creator of the World Renowned FAMU Marching "100" Band.
by Dr. William P. Foster
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