Good Afternoon, I trust this message finds you well. My name is Dr. Jada John, and I am the Executive Director of Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts, otherwise known as BALAA (pronounced BALL-UH). BALAA is a youth-centered, arts-based nonprofit located in Brooklyn, NY. I am reaching out to you to share information about our upcoming NYC HBCU Audition Fair and Concrete Crankfest.

The NYC HBCU Audition Fair is a unique opportunity for high school students in the tri-state area to connect with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), providing a platform for them to audition for marching band scholarships, to learn about academic programs, and to talk to current HBCU band students about the vibrant campus life these institutions offer. Band directors from the following HBCUs have confirmed their attendance thus far:

  1. Virginia Union University
  2. Virginia State University
  3. Hampton University
  4. North Carolina Central University
  5. Allen University
  6. Shaw University
  7. Tennessee State University
  8. Clark Atlanta University
  9. Edward Waters University
  10. Voorhees University
  11. Talladega College
  12. Texas Southern University
  13. Grambling State University
  14. Alcorn State University
  15. Arkansas Baptist College
  16. Alabama A&M University 

This opportunity is free and open to all interested high school students. To participate, students simply need to register online at, and submit a copy of their transcripts via email to Registration is officially open, and transcripts are due no later than January 31, 2024. We will also be offering free in-person and virtual audition clinics to help students prepare for their auditions.

In conjunction with this historic HBCU Audition Fair, we are hosting NYC’s first Concrete Crankfest, a battle of the bands between actual HBCU bands. This event offers a creative and engaging space for students to showcase their talents in various artistic disciplines. Our first confirmed band to participate in the Concrete Crankfest is Ambassadors of Sound from Virginia Union University. This event aims to foster a sense of community, celebrate diversity, and encourage artistic expression among our youth. This is a ticketed event, but we will have group discounts available, as well as half-priced tickets for anyone who auditions.

NYC HBCU Audition Fair

  – Date: Monday, February 19, 2023

  – Location: Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11216

  – Time: 9 AM to 3 PM

Concrete Crankfest:

  -Rescheduled for Fall 2024

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to contact me via email at or via telephone at 929-823-7732.

We look forward to the possibility of inspiring and engaging the talented students within your district through the NYC HBCU Audition Fair and Concrete Crankfest.

Best regards,Dr. Jada John

Executive Director

Big Apple Leadership Academy for the Arts, Inc. (501c3)

1014 Gates Avenue, 3rd Floor

Brooklyn, NY 11221