News Blog

Atlanta Jazz Festival Announces Winners of Bank of America Youth Jazz Band Competition


We had an amazing turnout of extraordinarily talented young musicians at this year’s Bank of America Youth Jazz Band Competition,” states Camille Russell Love, Director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “Area high school jazz bands competed at Georgia State University’s School of Music on March 22 to win a coveted spot at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival.  The top three bands won a slot on to perform and a scholarship from Bank of America. Our yearly competition helps nurture budding musicians and the next generation of jazz enthusiasts. We know you’ll be surprised at their skills when you hear them in Piedmont Park this Memorial Day Weekend, May 23-25.”

Here are the winners, the dates and times that they will perform at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and their scholarship amounts:

1st Place: North Atlanta Center for the Arts Jazz Band – Friday, May 23 at 5 pm

They will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

2nd Place: Tri-Cities High School Jazz Band – Saturday, May 24 at 1 pm

They will receive a $750 scholarship.

3rd Place: Milton High School Jazz Ensemble – Sunday, May 25 at 1 pm

They will receive a $500 scholarship.

North Atlanta Center for the Arts Band Director Adam Brooks knew by the time he was in high school that he wanted to be an educator. So he’s in tune with the fact that he is helping his students decide on careers and make life choices. Having played French horn and percussion in school, Brooks enjoyed performing, but loved teaching others. He is a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, with a degree in Jazz Education.  He’s been a Music Educator for ten years and the Band Director at North Atlanta for eight years.

“The arts are vital,” says Brooks. “Students who are involved in band, chorus, drama, visual arts and dance are better students academically. The discipline they learn sharpens life skills faster than anything else. And the arts bolster creativity. I believe moving forward that businesses will look for a workforce with creativity and imagination to help push them to the forefront of innovation.”

“Winning the Youth Jazz Band Competition is the culmination of the student’s hard work for the year,” continues Brooks. “We set our goal to win and put it on our board. It’s wonderful to see it come to fruition. We love playing in Piedmont Park and being part of the Atlanta Jazz Festival is truly an honor.”

Tarik Rowland has been the Director of Bands at Tri-Cities High School for nine years and a music educator for fifteen. His undergraduate work was completed at Georgia Southern and he did his graduate work at Shenandoah Conservatory. He is currently completing his Doctorate in Music Education at the University of Georgia. Under Rowland’s leadership, the Tri-Cities Band Program has grown from 45 members to 145.

“I became a Music Educator because I love music and I grew up around it,” explains Rowland. “I play trumpet, and my dad was a Band Director for 43 years!  It’s an area where I feel that I can make a meaningful contribution.”

“Music is an important part of our curriculum,” Rowland adds. “It allows students to explore their creative sides, and it’s a very constructive way to process things.”

“We are excited about playing at this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival,” continues Rowland. “It is great for the students to see an audience that loves jazz and celebrates this art form.”

Rowland is ably assisted by Aaron L. Johnson, Associate Director of Bands at Tri-Cities High School. Johnson began playing trumpet at the age of nine and attended Tri-Cities High School where he played in both the symphonic and jazz bands.  He attended Tennessee State University where he further honed his skills and studied Orchestral Conducting.  He started teaching Math at Tri-Cities six years ago and working part time with the Band Department.  This past year he was named Associate Director of Bands.

“My hope is that through music my students will enter a world of endless possibilities,” says Johnson.  “Music helps teach focus and discipline which transfers to math and science. It also teaches teamwork and cultural respect, which are important real-world skills.”

Milton High School Jazz Band Director Brandon Kunka graduated with a Masters from the University of Miami, and began teaching music in high schools in Miami before moving to Atlanta.  Then he thought he would pursue a career as a musician. But after teaching private music lessons at Milton High School, he realized that he had a passion for teaching, and he was right where he was meant to be.  This is his second year as Jazz Band Director at Milton.

“Being able to see my students achieve something great and make a soulful performance is what keeps me in the game,” says Kunka. “I know that the attributes they gain by playing music, like discipline and perseverance, will help them grow as a person and take them further when they go into the professional world.”

“It’s fantastic that we will be performing this year at the Atlanta Jazz Festival,” enthuses Kunka. “The kids are super hyped. It’s the first award that Milton High School has received for their Jazz Program so it’s a huge milestone.”


Sponsors for this year’s festival include Bank of America, Publix Charities, Coca-Cola, W Atlanta – Midtown, MARTA, XFINITY, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Georgia Lottery. If you are interested in being a sponsor and promoting your product or service at the festival, contact Alex Davis at ADDavis@AtlantaGa.Gov.


The 37th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The mission of the Atlanta Jazz Festival is to educate and entertain a diverse audience of jazz fans and to nurture the next generation of jazz musicians. The festival is partially supported by Atlanta Jazz Festival Inc, a 501©(3) cultural, non-profit.  Like us on Facebook at AtlantaJazzFestival and visit the official web site at for performance schedules, news and information.

# # #

MEDIA:For hi-res photos, to set interviews, or for more info please contact Karen Hatchett at or 770-433-1137.}