Spirit of Atlanta


Other Names:Spirit; Spirit of Georgia; Spirit, from Jacksonville State University; Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps from Jacksonville, AL

Atlanta, GA United States
Founded: 1976

Active Junior
World Class

The Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps is a World Class competitive junior drum and bugle corps based in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1976, Freddy and Linda Martin and Bob Hoehn met with the management of WXIA, an Atlanta area television station to discuss starting an Atlanta-area drum and bugle corps. After a series of successful meetings, a corps originally named "Concourse" was founded. After a contest was held to find a new, more appropriate name, the corps was renamed, "Spirit of Atlanta."

With Freddy Martin as corps director, members were recruited, and a program with no particular musical style was worked up. In its inaugural season, Spirit of Atlanta was in contests in nine states in the South and Midwest. At the 1977 Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships in Denver, Spirit finished a respectable twenty-third out of forty-five corps.

Spirit of Atlanta wanted to be more than just another also-ran corps. An all-out effort was made to secure the finest instructional staff possible. Two new caption heads were hired; brass head Jim Ott from the DCI Champion Blue Devils and percussion head Tom Float from Toronto's Oakland Crusaders, a corps renowned for their drumming. With these two hires and a group of top-flight specialist instructors, Spirit had put together an instructional staff which would take the corps to the upper tier of the drum corps activity. Adopting a style of "Southern Jazz," Spirit stunned the drum corps world in 1978 by vaulting into eighth place at DCI Prelims in Denver. Then at Finals, the corps rose even higher, finishing in sixth place and losing the High Brass title to the Phantom Regiment by 0.05 of a point.

With the brass and percussion among the best in the drum corps activity, Spirit moved up into a fourth-place finish at DCI in Birmingham, Alabama in 1979. The corps opened the program with the song that would become the corps' trademark tune, "Georgia on my Mind."

Two weeks into the 1980 season, Spirit was traveling from a show in New Orleans to another in Memphis. One of the corps' vans was in a traffic accident on Interstate 55 near Grenada, Mississippi. Brass arranger and caption head Jim Ott was killed. Spirit of Atlanta's emotional DCI Finals performance of "Georgia on My Mind," "Ol' Man River," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "Let It Be Me" has often been called the corps’ best show ever. It only placed fourth, but it was only 0.8 points behind the champion Blue Devils.

WXIA dropped the first corporate-sponsorship of a drum corps in DCI just before the 1981 season. With that, on top of Ott's loss, and then Float departing after 1981, Spirit remained a power but spent the next several years in the lower half of the Top 12.

Atlanta and Spirit hosted the 1984 DCI World Championships.The hometown favorites took sixth place with their program of music from "Porgy and Bess." Along with another 6th in '86, it was their best finish in the Eighties.

The 1987 edition of Spirit set an interesting record as the lowest ranked corps to defeat a DCI champion during the championship year. Three times, the Spirit of Atlanta beat the Garfield Cadets in head-to-head competition - in West Chester, Pennsylvania; Cary, North Carolina; and Orlando, Florida. But, it was three wins in ten meetings early in the season; in DCI Finals,Spirit was tenth, as Garfield won its fourth DCI title in five years.

In 1988, the decision was made to leave Spirit of Atlanta's' trademark "Southern jazz" theme behind. Although the program of Stravinsky's "Petrouska" was well-performed and finished in 9th at DCI, the corps' fan base felt that they had also been left behind. The following year's "Interstellar Suite" was met with equal fan apathy, and the corps was further plagued with new uniforms that used a non-colorfast dye that ran in the rain. 1989 was the first time Spirit of Atlanta missed DCI Finals since its inaugural season of 1977.

Music from "Gone With the Wind" and "The Color Purple" got Spitrit back into DCI Finals in 1990, but for only one season. Spirit was beset with management and financial problems in the early Nineties. After falling to 15th in 1982 and 16th in '82, the corps relocated to suburban Peachtree City in 1983 and was renamed the Spirit of Georgia. The change of locale did not help; the corps placed 17th. Financial woes continued, and before the start of the next season, it was announced that Spirit would be inactive in 1984.

The Spirit of Atlanta was returned in 1995. The "All on a Southern Afternoon" show placed 20th at DCI. The next year's "Rhapsopdy in Blue" placed 23rd.

In 1997 through 2001, Spirit qualified for DCI semifinals and had finishes of 17th, 14th, 16th, 15th, and 13th. The corps changed uniforms along the way, abandoning the traditional baby blue for a navy blue top with cream pants.

Spirit and Jacksonville State University (JSU) in Jacksonvlle, Alabama have had a long relationship. Seventy-five miles from Atlanta down the Central of Georgia Railroad track, Jacksonville State has had many students marching in the corps from day one. Spirit has had camps at JSU and has hosted shows at JSU Stadium.

In 2000, Spirit was in camp at JSU just before the start of tour, when the corps director tried to fold the drum corps. The move was strongly opposed by corps members and alumni, parents, staff, and other members of the drum corps community. Spirit of Atlanta got through the season and finished in fifteenth place at DCI Finals.

In the reorganizing from the chaos of the spring of 2000, Spirit moved west and became Spirit, from Jacksonville State University. Official sponsorship by the university gave the corps the stability it had lacked for more than a decade. With members receiving college credit for marching, the corps' talent level rose. In 2001, the music of Eric Whitacre's "The Ghost Train Triptych" celebrated the move to Jacksonville, and Spirit was once more wearing baby blue. At DCI, Spirit was 14th in quarterfinals, and they passed Blue Knights for 13th in semis, the corps' best finish since 1990.

In 2002, Spirit returned to DCI Finals for the first time in a dozen years, placing 10th. In seven years of JSU sponsorship, the corps was a DCI Top 12 Finalist five times. One tenth place finish, four 12ths and two 13ths seeminglly was not enough for the school to continue paying the bills, and the association was essentially dissolved. Once more independent, the corps became the Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps from Jacksonville, Alabama, when the corps continued to operate out of Jacksonville for the 2009 season..

Spirit surprised the drum corps community in 2010 by announcing that the corps was returning home to Atlanta. Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps marched a show called, "Forging a Icon" which resulted in the presentation of the corps' "Delta" logo to the crowd.

Spirit of Atlanta reclaimed its given name in 2011 and began a three year run in DCI Finals,

The corps has since been a solid performer, advancing to semifinals every year through 2017. Only the recent overall growth in the strength of nearly every other corps has prevented Spirit from being more successful.

[Friends of Spirit Inc.; A History of Drum & Bugle Corps, Vickers, 2002-03; Drum Corps World, multiple issues; Drum Corps International]



Members (109)

Member Name Section Years Involved
Abney, Jeff tenors 1980 to 1981
Akey, Josh Snare 1999
Anderson, Jim baritone 1978
Andujar, Colleen Colorguard 2007
Armstrong, Alan Soprano 1982 to 1985
Armstrong, Alan Member/Staff 1986
Armstrong, Alan Staff 1987 to 1997; 2000 to 2001
Armstrong, Craig Visual Tech 1999
Bailey, Derek Baritone 2002
Bailey, Derek Euphonium 2003
Bailey, Susan Cymbals 1977 to 1980
Bertram, Mark Visual Staff 1992
Bierce, Hal Percussion/Tenors 1977 to 1981
Blair, Patrick Contra Line 1993
Bornstein, Jack Roadie 1982
Bornstein, Jack Bass Drum 1983; 1985
Bornstein, Niel flugel horn 1982; 1984
Bough, Roland Front Ensemble 1999
Bough, Roland Contra Bass 2000
Coggin, Greg Soprano 2009 to 2010
Cook, Drogheda PIT 2002 to 2005
Coppola, Matt Mellophone 2008
Davidson, Brandon Mellophone 1995
Dawson, James Soprano Bugle 1983
Dawson, Willard Flugelhorn 1983
DeJournett, Bill French Horn 1986; 1988
Duncan, Kelly Contrabass 1992
Eden, Martha Contra 1999 to 2001
Ellender, Cindy Color Guard 1982 to 1985
Elrod, Brian French Horn 1984
Frederick, Benjamin Soprano 2004
Geraci, Billy Soprano 2002 to 2003
Golus, Gary Snare 1992
Greer, Brian Euphonium 1993
Guest, Michelle Mellophone 2006 to 2007
Hearn, Patrick Mellophone 1997 to 1998
Henshaw, Jen Guard/Flag 2001
Hill, Paul Bass Line 1997
Hopkins, Gary mellophone/drum major 1977 to 1979
Hopkins, Gary Color Guard Caption Head 1980
Hopkins, Gary Brass Staff 1991 to 1992
Howard, Julian Tuba 2001
Hughes, Jim Bass Drum 1998
Jenner, Bryan Management Team 1995 to 1997
Jenner, Bryan Management Team 1995 to 1997
Jones, Scott Soprano 1989 to 1990
Judice, Jesse Euphonium 2002
Kearney, Jimmy Contra 1979
Knapp, Vicki Color Guard 1997
Kunkel, Matthew Baritone 1995 to 1996
Lamb, Jason Soprano 2003
Lary, Ben pit 2000 to 2001
Lasley, Caryn Color Guard 2005
Leonard, Christian Baritone 1987
Litzsinger, Matt Euphonium 2015 to 2016
Long, Christopher Soprano 1993
Marshman, Scott Color Guard 1986 to 1987
Matthews, Josh Baritone 1999
McBrayer, John Contra Bass 1989 to 1992
McIntosh, Jason colorguard staff 1993
McLendon, Richard Pit Arranger 1985
Mercer, Amanda Guard 2000; 2002
Milano, Paul Corps Manager 1978 to 1980
Milano, Paul Vice Chairman of the Board 2001 to 2003
Morton, Drew Baritone 2005
Muncher, Mike Front Ensemble 1999
Muncher, Mike Percussion 1999
Nayman, Josh tenors 1999
Nelson, Jeff snare 1979 to 1981
Newman, James DIRECTOR 1994 to 1999
Nichols, David Soprano 2001 to 2002
Palmer, Steven contrabass 2002 to 2003
Poulan, Key Brass Arranger 1992 to 1993
Propes, Mark Drumline 1979
Quiram, Lea Trumpet 2004
Reed, Jim Snare 1996
Reichardt, Debbie Colorguard / Rifle 1978 to 1979
Ritchie, Andy Snare 1982
Roberts, Micky Soprano 1980
Robichaux, Josh Percussion/ Front Ensemble 2001 to 2002
Robichaux, Josh Pit tech 2003 to 2007
Ruiz, Maricelie Drumline 1997
Schmidt, Michael contra, soprano 1981 to 1982
Shreffler, Bob Snare 1980
Skinner, Jason Contra 1998 to 1999; 2001
Smelser, David Percussion 1989 to 1992
Smith, Jared Contra 2001 to 2003
Smith, Michael Mellophones 1998
Snell-Wisner, Deanna Front ensemble 1997
Stepson, Steven Baritone (soloist) 1993 to 1994
Stevens, Jesse Front Ensemble 2010 to 2012
Story, Scott Mellophone 1993
Taylor, Mario Cymbals 2003
Taylor, Sean bass/tenors 1994 to 1995
Thomas, Craig Tenors 1991 to 1992
Tilley, Timothy Soprano 1988
Vasquez, Ramon Brass Staff 2006
Vasquez, Ramon Brass Caption Head 2008
Weidenthal, Weedy Soprano 2007
Weyer, Christopher Baritone/Drum Major 2000 to 2001
Weyer, Christopher Baritone/Drum Major 2000 to 2001
White, Matthew Trumpet 2008; 2010
Wolfford, Bryan Soprano 2002
gulliford, kassi euphonium 2001 to 2007
krempasky, matt caption head/music arranger 1997 to 2000
lopez, ryan colorguard 2010 to 2012
mckenzie, teresa color guard 1983
murphy, molly mellophone 2004
outz, jeff lead sop. 1978

CORPS 19 items

Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta Bumper Sticker from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta Hat from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-10 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-11 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-3 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-4 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-5 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

SpiritOfAtlanta Atlanta GA-7 from the Bill Ives Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta Bobblehead from the Chris Maher Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta Key Chain from the Chris Maher Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit Of Atlanta -July 8, 1980 "Blues In The Night" Memphis from the Roy Perez Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

1979 Spirit of Atlanta - JIM OTT Brass Rehearsal part 1 from the Roy Perez Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 1979 JIM OTT Brass Rehearsal part 2 from the Roy Perez Collection
Spirit of Atlanta
PDF Document
362-363, Spirit of Atlanta from the Steve Vickers Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 1 from the Wayne Hiller Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 2 from the Wayne Hiller Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 3 from the Wayne Hiller Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 4 from the Wayne Hiller Collection
Spirit of Atlanta

Spirit of Atlanta 5 from the Wayne Hiller Collection

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