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History for Spirit of Atlanta Atlanta, GA
Active Junior Corps (World Class) founded in 1976 Did you march Spirit of Atlanta?
Repertoires Picture Gallery History Scores Members
Other names: Spirit; Spirit of Georgia; JSU Spirit
homepage: http://www.spiritdrumcorps.org/
Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_of_Atlanta_Drum_and_Bugle_Corps
Spirit Drum & Bugle Corps was founded in 1977 when Freddy Martin decided Atlanta, the capital of the New South, needed a drum and bugle corps. Since then, this corps at the heart of the New South has gone through many changes, but its identity and purposes have remained constant.

The corps' name was the result of a contest to name the corps, won by one of the new group's percussionists.

In the corps' first year, they stampeded onto the national scene with a record high placement at the time, 23rd, for a first-year corps. That first repertoire included "Carnival Overture," "Music," "Woman in the Moon," and "Love the Feeling."

The corps jumped all the way to sixth place in DCI Finals in its second year of existence, and followed that up with a fourth-place finish in 1979. Known throughout its history for music framing its Southern roots, Spirit debuted its trademark “Georgia on my Mind” in 1979.

The fourth place finish in 1980, which missed winning DCI by only one point, is viewed by many as the corps’ best show ever, consisting of "Georgia on My Mind," "Ol' Man River," "Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Sweet Georgia Brown," and "Let It Be Me." The season was marred, however, by the untimely traffic death of legendary horn arranger Jim Ott.

Atlanta hosted DCI Finals in 1984, where the hometown favorites took sixth place with their program from "Porgy and Bess." An experiment in challenging new music, including "Petrouchka" and the darker "Interstellar Suite," took place in 1988 and 1989, and was followed by an imaginative repertoire featuring themes from movies about the South in 1990.

The 1987 edition of Spirit set an interesting record as the lowest ranked corps ever to defeat a DCI champion during the championship year. The southern corps overcame the Garfields Cadets in head-to-head competition during the season - three times - before finishing tenth in DCI Finals to Garfield's first-place finish.

Moving to Peachtree City, Georgia, the corps rechristened itself the Spirit of Georgia in 1993. The natal name of Spirit of Atlanta was resumed, however, in 1995.

The 2001 repertoire of Whitacre’s modern concert work "Ghost Train Triptych" emblemized the corps’ move to Jacksonville, Alabama, connected to Atlanta for 100 years by 75 miles of Central of Georgia Railroad track. Jacksonville State University sponsors the newly named Spirit from JSU, where Spirit is a for-credit course. JSU director of bands Ken Bodiford has directed the corps since 2000.

Under the new sponsorship, Spirit moved back into DCI finals in 2002, finishing tenth, and becoming the first finalist corps to be sponsored by a university. The 129-member corps was 12th in 2003 with a program entitled 'Time.'

In 2004, Spirit captured 13th place in DCI Semifinals with their show 'The Architecture of Life.'

[www.spiritofatlanta.org, DCW, 3/90, p.5; DCW, 8/31/02, p.4; DCW, 3/03, p.6; DCW, 6/6/03, p.3; DCW, 6/11/04, p.3]

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