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Neil Underwood


Nominated by Jerry Lowe

Neil Underwood

Mr. Underwood is the Associate Director of Bands/Director of Athletic Bands at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC. The “Spirit of LR” Marching Band has grown to 100+ members for the 2020 season. In addition to marching band and conducting the wind ensemble at LRU, Mr. Underwood also instructs music education classes. In 2019, the LRU Wind Symphony was a featured performance group at the NCMEA Conference.

Prior to his appointment to LRU, he served as Director of Bands for a combined total of 32 years at East and North Lincoln High Schools. During that time, his concert bands twice performed in Carnegie Hall, once at the Lincoln Center, twice at North Carolina Music Educators Conferences, in Washington D.C. for the 60th Anniversary Celebration of the ending of WW II, and, in 2012, for the ASBDA National Convention. Mr. Underwood’s bands have been the featured musical ensembles for the NC State Board of Education Conference on two occasions. Marching bands under his direction have marched in the National Memorial Day Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, were champions at the Gator Bowl National Field Show Championship, and were finalists at nine Bands of America regional championships.

In 2001, Mr. Underwood received the Award of Excellence from the South Central District Band Association where he served as District Chair. He served as President of the North Carolina Bandmasters Association and was a founding member of the NC Bandmasters Marching Band Committee. In 2001 Mr. Underwood was recognized as East Lincoln High School's and Lincoln County School’s Teacher of the Year. He received the NC Citizenship Teacher of the Year in 2008, and in 2013. Mr. Underwood was selected as one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s "50 Directors Who Make A Difference." He was a quarter-finalist for the 2021 GRAMMY Music Educator Award. Mr. Underwood holds membership in ASBDA, NAfME, NCBA, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, CBDNA, and Rotary International. He resides in Lincolnton, with his wife, Joanna. They serve as the music directors for Lincolnton First United Methodist Church. Both are also dedicated board members and participants with the Lincoln Cultural Center and the Lincoln Theatre Guild. Their two adult children are both professional musicians in education and entrepreneurial professions. He and Joanna are the proud grandparents of Bennett Blair, the most recent light of their lives.

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