The Cardinal Marching Band History
For over 70 years, the Cardinal Marching Band has proudly represented the University of Louisville as the most visible ensemble at the School of Music, performing live for over half a million spectators each year. Creating vibrant game day traditions for Cardinal fans is at the core of the CMB, which performs at all UofL Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium home football games, select away games and all bowl games. The CMB has been the “Official Band for the Kentucky Derby” since 1936 and has received national recognition through features on ESPN, ABC World News Tonight, Oprah, Sports Illustrated, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the NFL Network. Additionally, the CMB has performed at 18 bowl games including the Music City, Russell Athletic, Sugar, Orange, Liberty, Belk, Beef O’ Brady’s, Gator, GMAC, Humanitarian, Motor City, Fiesta, Pasadena and Sun Bowl.
The UofL CMB was formed in 1928 under the direction of E.J. Wotowa and started performing at football games in 1933. Ernest Lyon was appointed as the new director in 1938, a position in which he would serve for 20 years. Membership, however, suffered a significant decline in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II. Following the war, UofL President John Taylor assisted with band scholarships, and Lyon’s and undergraduate student Jack Kline quickly revived the band and doubled its membership to 100 students.
In 1949, the band traveled to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to perform at the UofL vs. Southern Mississippi football game. It was at this game that the band had to abandon the claim of “Best Dressed Band in Dixie,” after it was discovered that another band held prior claim to that title. The UofL CMB thus adopted the nickname “Marching Cardinals” which was shortened in 2011 to “Marching Cards.”
Through the 1950s the CMB was extremely active, dazzling audiences with electrifying half time shows featuring majorette Hilda Gay Mayberry who was named the most outstanding majorette in the country during the time! The 1960s marked the leadership of Robert Griffith, who in 1962 wrote the UofL fight song, Fight! UofL. Due to a lack of financial support, the band’s membership gradually declined in the 1960s until their last performance in the fall of 1970. In 1978 Governor Julian Carroll offered to help reestablish the band under the direction of Randy Mitchell. In the fall of 1979, the band once again began performing at UofL football games.
Thanks to the leadership of many directors, including Robert Franzblau, Dave Woodley, Dave Tullberg, Larry Marks, Eric Becker, and Greg Byrne, and the donor support of Owsley Brown Frazier, Heddy Kurz, Sam Swope, Fischer Packing Company, Dr. Mark E. Lynn & Cindy Lynn and Visionworks Doctor’s of Optometry, the band has performed at every UofL Football game since 1979 and has been a vital part of the University of Louisville.
In 2007, under the direction of Greg Byrne, the CMB went through a momentous occasion in its history with the naming of its official practice field. At the time, band member Patrick Henry Hughes, who was blind and a wheelchair user, participated in the ensemble with the assistance of his father who wheeled Patrick around the marching formations. The Hughes’ story brought national recognition to the program. As a result, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition surprised the UofL community with a renovated band and intramurals practice facility named the Patrick Henry Hughes Field.
In 2011, Amy Acklin was appointed as the Associate Director of Bands & Marching Band Director. Mark J. Lynn served as Assistant Director of Bands and Assistant Marching Band Director from 2011-2016. Jason Cumberledge was appointed Interim Assistant of Bands and Assistant Marching Band Director in 2016. Frederick Speck, Director of Bands, has overseen and provided vision and direction for the program since 1995. Dr. Speck also wrote the arrangement of My Old Kentucky Home which the Marching Cards play during the pre-game show.
Members of the CMB proudly represent some of the finest students at the University of Louisville and surrounding Kentuckiana Metroversity institutions. Every member of the CMB receives a scholarship to perform with the ensemble. There are additional awards for the official CMB Bugler and Feature Twirler. If you are interested in joining the band, please contact the UofL Bands Office at 502-852-5200 or visit their website at UofLBands.com!
Please click on the following link to view historical photos for the UofL Marching Band – http://www.flickr.com/photos/uoflmusiclibrary/sets/72157633255910254/ All rights reserved by University of Louisville Music Library
For current photos of UofL Bands, please visit Flickr.com/MarchingCards