FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Florida Classic Consortium announced Monday that Charlie Wilson, former lead singer of The Gap Band, will headline the McDonald’s Halftime Show as part of the 33rd annual Florida Blue Florida Classic. Comedian Rickey Smiley will perform as part of this year’s Florida Blue Battle of the Bands.
Wilson and Smiley are substitutes for Florida A&M University’s “Marching 100,” which traditionally performs against archrival Bethune-Cookman University’s “Marching Wildcats.” Their appearances are yet another consequence of the hazing death of Robert Champion, a drum major whose death after the 100’s November 2011 performance at the Florida Classic football game shook the university and led to the suspension of the iconic band.
Champion, 26, was beaten during a ritual hazing onboard a charter bus. An autopsy concluded that his death was a homicide and that he was beaten so severely that it caused internal bleeding. Criminal charges and civil lawsuits have been filed, and various investigations continue.
Wilson at halftime
Wilson, a six-time Grammy nominee, will perform in collaboration with the Marching Wildcats, then perform a 15-minute set for what is expected to be another large crowd at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on Nov. 17. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
“Working with our partners at B-CU, we really focused on bringing the best entertainment available to this year’s Florida Blue Florida Classic and the Florida Blue Battle of the Bands,” said FAMU’s interim president and provost Dr. Larry Robinson. “Charlie Wilson is a terrific addition to our talent lineup and has a tremendous following among Florida Classic fans.”
Smiley at Battle
Standup comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley stars in the recently launched “Rickey Smiley Show” on TV One. Best known for his outrageous characters, Smiley will perform at the Florida Blue Battle of the Bands on Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Amway Center. High school bands from throughout the state of Florida also will perform, as will the Marching Wildcats.
“There are so many great traditions that surround the game and ancillary events,” said B-CU’s interim president, Dr. Edison O. Jackson. “With the announcement of this year’s entertainment, we are only continuing to build on the fun and excitement that everyone has come to expect from the Florida Blue Florida Classic.”
Tickets for both events may be purchased from Ticketmaster.com, any Ticketmaster outlet or the Amway Center and range from $10.75 to $52 per ticket, depending upon seat location. Packages for groups of 20 or more may be purchased through the Florida Citrus Sports Ticket Office at 407-423-2476.
Ancillary events include the Florida Blue Florida Classic Career Expo and Diversity Job Fair, Florida Blue Florida Classic FanFare and Florida Classic Consortium Kickoff Luncheon.