A little more than four years ago the Spirit of LR Marching Band was brought back from a 25-year absence. It has since gone on to compete in athletic competitions, community events and even been invited to participate in national parades.
Now one of the persons instrumental in its return and growth is being recognized.
Lenoir-Rhyne University Associate Director of University Bands Neil Underwood has been recognized as 1 of 3 members of the 2021 induction class into the North Carolina Bandmasters Association (NCBA) Hall of Fame.
"It means a lot," Underwood said. "I've always said any teacher — especially a music teacher — is only as good as the students they teach. I've been very fortunate through the years. I'm humbled and honored."
Underwood also conducts the wind ensemble and teaches music education classes at LR.
Prior to his arrival, he had 32 years of experience as a band director at East and North Lincoln High Schools. He was actually president of the NCBA back in 2001 when its Hall of Fame was created and inducted 25 members as the inaugural class. Now 20 years later, he counts himself among them.
"I didn't think I'd be selected because the list of candidates is so impressive," he said. "I hoped maybe one day."
In his time as a director, Underwood's bands have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, at North Carolina Music Educator's Conference and in Washington, D.C. for the 60th anniversary of the ending of World War II.
In 2001, he received the Award of Excellence from the South-Central District Band Association, and he was selected as one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine's, "50 Directors Who Make a Difference."
Under his direction, bands have marched in the National Memorial Day Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, won nine Bands of America regional championships and won the Gator Bowl National Field Show Championship.