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Distinguished Alumni

The Department of Music, in collaboration with the College of Arts & Letters, selects one alumnus every spring to be awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award. Recipients are selected based on their significant music career achievements with recognition or impact at the state, regional, and/or national level, to include an accumulated body of work and various awards, honors, or distinction significant to the field of music. We are proud of these and all our alumni!

Master Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Barlow

Sam Barlow in his uniform holds the CoAL Distinguished Alumnus award

Trombonist Master Gunnery Sergeant Samuel Barlow of Jackson, Tenn., joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in June 2004. He was named principal trombone in 2013 and assistant section leader in 2017.


Master Gunnery Sgt. Barlow began his musical training at age 12. Upon graduating in 1995 from Northside High School in Jackson, he attended Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn., where in 2000 he earned a bachelor’s degree in music education. In 2003, he earned a master’s degree in music performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory in Ohio. His trombone instructors included Susan K. Smith from Austin Peay State University and Cincinnati Symphony principal trombone Cristian Ganicenko. Prior to joining “The President’s Own,” he performed with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra in Ohio.


Master Gunnery Sgt. Barlow performs with the Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra at the White House, in the Washington, D.C., area, and across the country during the band’s annual concert tour. In 2010 he was featured as a tour soloist on Stephen Bulla’s arrangement Southwest Showcase and on the 2014 tour he performed Arthur Pryor’s Fantastic Polka.

Dr. Andrea E. Brown

Andrea Brown

Dr. Andrea E. Brown was appointed the Associate Director of Bands at the University of Maryland in 2018. In this position she conducts the University of Maryland Wind Ensemble and serves as the Director of Athletic Bands in which she leads the “Mighty Sound of Maryland” and all aspects of the athletic band program. Brown is formerly a member of the conducting faculty at the University of Michigan where she served as the assistant director of bands. In this position, she was the conductor of the Campus Bands and director of the Campus Band Chamber Ensembles, associate director of the Michigan Marching and Athletic Bands, director of the Men's Basketball Band, guest conductor with the Symphony Band and Concert Band, taught conducting, and was a faculty sponsor of a College of Engineering Multidisciplinary Design Project team researching conducting pedagogy technology. Previously Brown was the director of orchestra and assistant director of bands at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta where she also led research in conducting pedagogy technology and was a member of the Oxford Program faculty. She is a frequent guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator in the US, Europe, and Asia. 


Brown completed a DMA in instrumental conducting at UNC Greensboro where she was a student of John Locke and Kevin Geraldi. While at UNCG, she was named Outstanding Teaching Assistant and was both guest conductor and principal horn on UNCG Wind Ensemble's fireworks! and finish line! CDs released on the Equilibrium label. Brown has also had several rehearsal guides published in the popular GIA Publications series, "Teaching Music Through Performance in Band" and has presented at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, Music For All Summer Symposium, the Yamaha Bläserklasse in Schlitz, Germany, the International Computer Music Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the College Music Society International Conference in Sydney, Australia, and multiple times at the College Band Directors National Association National Conference.


A proponent of inclusion and equity issues in the music profession, Brown is a frequent guest speaker on these topics. She currently serves on the CBDNA Gender and Ethnic Minority Committee, and as a member of the recently formed Drum Corps International Women’s In Step Committee. Brown is also the founder of “Women Rising to the Podium” - an online group of 2300 members supporting and celebrating women band directors. She also serves the chair of the Sigma Alpha Iota Women’s Music Fraternity Graduate Conducting Grant.


Brown currently serves as a brass consultant for Phantom Regiment and Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps. She has been on the brass and conducting instructional staff of the DCI World Champion Phantom Regiment since 2004. Other marching organizations with which she has instructed are the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, Carolina Crown, Kennesaw Mountain High School (GA), Father Ryan High School (TN), and McGavock High School (TN).


As a performer, Brown was a member of the AA Brass Quintet, which won the International Brass Quintet Competition hosted by Fred Mills at the University of Georgia. She performed with the horn sections of the Boston Brass All Stars Big Band, North Carolina Symphony, Winston-Salem Symphony, and the Brevard Music Center Orchestra. Brown has studied brass performance and pedagogy with Abigail Pack, Jack Masarie, Freddy Martin, J.D. Shaw, Dottie Bennett, Randy Kohlenberg, Richard Steffen, and Ed Bach.


Originally from Milan, Tennessee, she is a graduate of Austin Peay State University where she was named "Outstanding Student in Music." Brown earned a master of music degree in horn performance and a master of music education degree with a cognate in instrumental conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Prior to her position at Georgia Tech, Brown was the assistant director of bands at Austin Peay State University and taught public school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Dallas, Texas. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Kappa Lambda, and CBDNA. She was awarded the Rose of Honor as a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and is an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.

Cindy Freeman, B.S.'73, M.M.'96

Cindy Freeman is a 1969 graduate of Clarksville High School in Clarksville, Tennessee. In 1973, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Austin Peay State University in Music Education majoring in Piano, where she studied under Dr. Patricia Gray.  She attended piano seminars at George Peabody College in Nashville featuring such artists as Charles Rosen, Leon Fleisher, Jorge Bolet, and Rudolph Serkin. She did graduate work at The Ohio State University in piano pedagogy studying under Dr. George Haddad. Freeman earned her Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting in 1996 from Austin Peay State University, studying extensively under her mentor, Dr. George Mabry. 


Freeman taught 45 years as director of choral activities at Dickson County High School, teaching six choral organizations-Mixed Chorus, Women’s Ensemble, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Barbershop and Beautyshop, as well as Theory and Harmony, Music History, Class Piano and General Music. She was a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Music Educators, the Tennessee Music Educators Association, the Middle Tennessee Vocal Association, the National Education Association, and the Tennessee Education Association.


Under the direction of Ms. Cindy Freeman, the Dickson County High School Concert Choir consistently scored Superior Ratings at Regional, State, National, and International Festivals since 1975. In February of 2014, the Dickson County High School Concert Choir was selected to perform at Carnegie Hall.  In addition to their own program, they also performed Ralph Vaughn William’s “Donna Nobis Pacem” with the State University of New York at Fredonia, under the direction of Dr. Gerald Gray, one of her former students and a former student of Dr. George Mabry as well.


Many alumni from this organization have continued to study music at such schools as Austin Peay State University; the Eastman School of Music – Rochester, New York; Nortwestern University – Illinois; Florida State University; Oberlin College Conservatory – Ohio; Curtis Institute of Music - Philadelphia, PA; the Westminster Choir College - Princeton, NJ; and many of our fine regional area universities. The Dickson County High School Choral Department has had alumni to study in Italy, France, and England. Many former choir members have performed in recitals and operas throughout the United States and Europe. Many alumni have become successful teachers of all different levels of Music Education. Regardless of what future endeavors DCHS alumni have chosen to pursue, they all seem to graduate from the DCHS Choral Department with a sincere love for singing great Choral Music.

Joe Giles, B.S.'61, M.M.'72

Joe GilesMr. Giles has established a national reputation as one of the country’s most influential leaders in Arts Education. His impressive resume details the depth of his experience as an award-winning teacher and choral director from the early days of his career to his appointment as the first Director of Arts Education for the State of Tennessee when the state’s first curriculum frameworks and guidelines for each arts discipline were produced under his direction. As a result of his success in this position, he was elected to be President of the Southern Division of Arts Supervisors and the President of the National Council of State Supervisors of Music, Washington, DC, a singular accomplishment.


One of Mr. Giles’ premiere accomplishments has been the creation of the Tennessee Arts Academy, a summer residential staff development program that serves teachers of choral and instrumental music, music theory, theatre and creative dramatics, and  visual art, as well as school administrators and supervisors. Professional arts associations consider The Academy to be the nation’s premier professional development program for teachers of the arts.


Mr. Giles has held leadership roles in significant state and national music organizations and has been a consultant, presenter, and guest speaker for numerous arts associations, as related in his dossier. His list of honors and awards are admirable. In addition to his  accomplishments, he is known for his generosity, kindness, vision, friendship, intelligence, creativity, ability to remember everyone’s name, ethical thinking and a desire to look forward, not backward.