North Atlanta High School Jazz Band performed at a recent fundraiser.

North Atlanta High School music programs director Adam Brooks will be honored with the Manilow Music Project Award by the Grammy-award-winning legend Barry Manilow at the Jan. 19 concert as his wife, kids, friends, and colleagues look on. 

The prize is $5,000 in cash and $5,000 “Manilow bucks” for the NAHS music program. The Manilow Music Project has given away over $10 million worth of funds and music instrument donations.

Brooks, 42, said he plans to buy a new speaker system for the band room and a keyboard for the jazz band which performs seven to 10 times a year. 

Adam Brooks, music educator at North Atlanta High School, is being honored with the Manilow Music Project award on Jan. 19.

“I’m very fortunate to have such a great community to serve. From the kids, parents and administration and colleagues, this amazing place to work,” said Brooks.  

NAHS is the largest high school in Atlanta Public Schools with 2,400 students.

In his 18th year with APS, Brooks spends his days teaching 120 music students. The program boasts a marching band, three levels of concert band (beginner, intermediate and advanced), two jazz bands, ensembles, percussion and music technology. 

Fall semester was busy with travel. NAHS band visited Western Carolina University, spending the day with a world renowned band and learning a pre-game show, and a traditional marching band competition in Raleigh, N.C. 

“We came home with the title of grand champion with first place in every category, so that was a very cool trip,” Brooks said. 

Travel continues when NAHS jazz band is hitting the road to attend Essentially Ellington in Nashville, Tenn., spearheaded by Wynton Marsalis, a nine-time Grammy award winning trumpeter, composer and educator. 

NAHS band members will be playing in the pit orchestra for the spring musical, “Legally Blonde.” In prior years, the band accompanied the drama department in “Footloose,” “Chicago” and “West Side Story.” 

“We have a dynamic arts department here, so getting ready for the musical is always a big to-do,” said Brooks. 

A horn and percussion player, Brooks grew up in Virginia Beach, Va. Brooks earned a bachelor’s degree from Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and a masters degree from Reinhardt College in Atlanta. 

As a college student, Brooks’ marching band traveled to Atlanta to appear in the movie “Drumline.” He connected with Atlanta-area band directors who gave him an opportunity at APS. It’s all been a wonderful journey, he said. 

Manilow is partnering with concert venues across the country to identify schools and music teachers who deserve a token of gratitude, Manilow said about his tour. The concert is at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 at State Farm Arena.  

Logan C. RitchieStaff Writer

Logan C. Ritchie writes features and covers Brookhaven for Rough Draft Atlanta.