North Atlanta High School music programs director Adam Brooks was 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 looked 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. 

“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.  

North Atlanta High School Jazz Band performed at a fundraiser in 2022

North Atlanta High School Jazz Band performed at a fundraiser in 2022.

Credit: Rough Draft Atlanta

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.  (Rough Draft, Atlanta)