Alfred L. Watkins was Director of Bands at Lassiter High School for 31 years. For six years prior to joining Lassiter, Watkins served as Director of Bands at Murphy High School in the Atlanta Public Schools. Bands under Watkins’ direction have performed four times at the Midwest Band Clinic, six performances at the Bands Of America National Concert Band Festival and four performances at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference. The symphonic band has performed on the college campuses of the University of Georgia (4), Florida State University, University of South Carolina, University of Southern Mississippi and Troy State University. The Lassiter Flute Choir, Clarinet Choir, Trumpet Ensemble, Trombone Choir, and Percussion Ensemble have all performed on the national stage. The Lassiter Percussion Ensemble has performed twice at the Midwest Clinic, PASIC, three times at the National Percussion Festival and four times at the Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference.
The Lassiter Marching Band was the 1998 and 2002 Bands of America Grand National Champion and the band also won nine BOA Regional Championships. Under Watkins’ leadership, the band also participated in four Tournament of Roses Parades, three times in the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade, twice in the Orange Bowl Parade and once in the Florida Citrus Bowl Parade. During Mr. Watkins’ Lassiter tenure, all four (or five) Lassiter concert bands received consecutive Superior Ratings from 1993 until his retirement in 2013, with the top two bands performing in Grade VI since 1989. The band program is one of only fourteen high bands in America to have received both the Sudler Flag of Honor for concert and the Sudler Shield for marching. The Lassiter Winter Color Guard was named 1996 and 1997 Winter Guard International World Champions.
Mr. Watkins has been selected as a member of the Florida A & M University Gallery of Distinguished Alumni, the American Bandmasters Association, the Georgia Chapter of the Phi Beta Mu Hall of Fame and the Bands of America Hall of Fame. He has received 16 Certificates of Excellence from the National Band Association, the Sudler Order of Merit from the John Philip Sousa Foundation and the Band World Magazine Legion of Honor. In 1996, Mr. Watkins was Associate Director for the Atlanta Olympic Marching Band that performed in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. In 2008, Mr. Watkins was received the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award from the Turknett Leadership Group, a Metro Atlanta Leadership Consultant firm. He was the first public school educator to have been nominated for this award. Mr. Watkins is Co-Founder, Conductor and Musical Director of the Cobb Wind Symphony, an all-adult community band based in the Atlanta area, which in 2009, earned the Sudler Silver Scroll Award presented to outstanding community bands in America and has performed twice at the Midwest Clinic. He is one of the founding members and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Minority Band Directors National Association, an organization formed in the summer of 2011, whose purpose is to serve, promote, celebrate and mentor minority band directors throughout America. In 2009 and 2010, two doctoral dissertations were written centering their subject matter on his life and his work at Lassiter. They are: Alfred Watkins and the Lassiter High School Band: A Qualitative Study by Sue Samuels, a dissertation submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Auburn, Alabama December 18, 2009 and Alfred L. Watkins: An Historical Narrative of His Musical Life and Work with the Lassiter High School Band by Matthew J. Thomas, a Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, The Florida State University, School of Music, Degree Awarded: Spring Semester, 2010. In 2013, he was awarded the Distinguished Career Award from GMEA. Also in 2013, Mr. Watkins was selected for the “Leader of the Band Award” in an online poll of ten thousand band directors as one of the admired band directors in America. Motivation Speaker and Leadership Consultant, Scott Lang administered the online poll. In 2013, he was a recipient of the Image Award by the 100 Black Men Organization of North Atlanta and the Flourish Award sponsored by Kennesaw State University Schools of the Arts.In 2014, Watkins’ former students and friends commissioned composers Mark Camphouse and James Curnow to write works honoring Mr. Watkins and his career: “Second Essay for Symphonic Band” and “Lexus for Solo Trumpet, Winds and Percussion.” In 2014, Watkins received the Edwin Franko Goldman Award from the American School Band Directors Association for outstanding contribution to the advancement of school bands. The $1.5 million Alfred L. Watkins Band Building at Lassiter High School bears his name. He and is wife of 32 years, Rita, live in Marietta. They have two sons: Christopher, as trumpet player/bugler in the United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” in Washington, D. C. and Jonathan, a graduate of Auburn University (Finance).
Jack Wilds (b. 1986) received his B.M. in Music Education from the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied composition with Dr. Donald Grantham. His music has been performed at state educators’ conferences across the country and in international venues including the Midwest Clinic, the International Trombone Festival, and the Slider Asia Clinic in Hong Kong. His works for concert band have been selected to the J.W. Pepper Editor’s Choice List and the Bandworld Top 100. He regularly accepts commissions for new works in a variety of media. In addition to his career as a composer Mr. Wilds is an active clinician and music educator. He lives in Kyle, Texas with his family.