WATCH: Southern University Human Jukebox in Rose Parade
LOS ANGELES - A year ago, when Southern University's Human Jukebox was selected to perform in the 2020 Rose Parade, the band members were thrilled and undoubtedly, words like 'suprised,' 'honored,' and 'excited' came to mind.
But the key word for some was, 'hope.'
Zaid Soberanis-Ramos, a native of Compton, CA who attends Southern University, is one of the Human Jukebox's 275 members and he's always used music as a source of hope.
When asked how he felt about performing in the legendary parade, Soberanis-Ramos told the Los Angeles Times, "I was in shock because we were going to be in my backyard. It's something that I never thought I would do before. To be a part of this, it's simply a blessing."
The 19-year-old has fond memories of watching the parade on television as a child, but his family was never able to make the 23-mile drive to Pasadena to enjoy the festivities in person.
Ironically, choosing to attend a university on the other side of the country allowed him to fulfill a life-long dream.
While speaking to reporters about how it feels to be a part of the event, Soberanis-Ramos said, "(it) gives me hope."
Incidentally, hope is the theme of this year's parade.
Tournament of Roses President, Laura Farber, came up with this theme, 'The Power of Hope.'
According to the LA Times, Farber is the first Latina to serve in the role and she wanted to use her platform to promote diversity and inclusion.
Farber said, "With the country and the world as divided as it is right now, we want hope to bring everyone together. That's what America's New Year celebration does. Hope is a powerful concept, and we wanted to focus on that."
Soberanis-Ramos and his fellow band members can relate to Farber's perspective. Soberanis-Ramos, the son of Mexican immigrants, is a computer science major at Southern. But his love for music and intense desire to achieve are what fuel him.
The 19-year-old started playing the horn in high school. He said he practiced for hours every day, in hopes of one day using music as a vehicle to a better life.
"All the dedication and hard work started paying off," he said. "It was getting me ready for the real world- the practices, the uniforms, the precision. When you see the joy on people's faces when you do a song and their heads are bopping, it makes it all worth it."
Today, as Soberanis-Ramos joins his fellow band mates in their Rose Parade performance, that kind of joy -and hope- is exactly what he'll experience as he looks out into the crowd.
The Human Jukebox was created in 1947 and has since performed at Super Bowls, presidential inaugurations, and the 1980 Rose Parade.
This year, one million people are expected to watch the band's performance during the 2020 Rose Parade.