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The man behind the Battle of the Bands

Adrian Carroll gives back to the community with the AC Project

By Alexandria Sampson - Echo A&E editor
On October 4, 2012

  • Southwest DeKalb High School competes in the 9th annual Battle of the Bands. Chi Brown - Echo staff photographer

Editor's note: The caption for the photograph at right has been corrected. It was originally mislabeled as N.C. A&T University. The band pictured is the award-winning Southwest DeKalb High School band.

College and high school bands from North Carolina are polishing their drums and tooting their trumpets preparing for the 10th annual Battle of the Bands. HBCUs including N.C. Central University, N.C. A&T and Winston-Salem State University will meet on the field later this month to compete. Hillside High School and 10 other high schools will join them.

The event is a part of the AC Project. The AC Project brings together bands from HBCUs and high schools to compete. Schools from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fayetteville and D.C. have previously competed.

Adrian Carroll is the mind behind the project. Carroll owns the AC Entertainment & Marketing Firm, LLC. Since graduating from St. Augustine's University, he has planned around 500 events and worked with renowned clients such as Sean "P.Diddy" Combs, B.E.T. and Kanye West.

Carroll said that most people are under the impression his inspiration comes from playing in a band. In reality, though, Carroll has no experience being in a band much less playing an instrument. Instead, he attributes his dream to a literal dream.

"One day, I had a dream about putting a Battle of the Bands on," said Carroll. "Most of my ideas come from a dream."

His mind made up, Carroll began to research bands and sought guidance from someone with experience. Carroll said he turned to the former band director of Hillside High School, Xavier Cason. Cason taught Carroll what he would need to do to execute such a big event. In order to make his dream a reality, Carroll would need money - $20,000 to be exact.

While searching for a sponsor, Carroll chanced upon the opening he needed. Carroll was introduced to Don P. Roberts, a producer from the hit movie "Drumline," and gained his support and sponsorship.

With the funds in his wallet, Carroll spent six months planning the Battle of the Bands which took place in Durham in 2003.The event was a success.

"My first Battle of the Bands drew over 5,000 people," said Carroll.

Carroll said that the driving force behind the AC Project is the youth. At the time of the first competition, gangs were on the rise. Since the project has taken off, Carroll has seen a positive change in the students he works with.

"For a lot of students it is an outlet for them to stay away from gangs and other negative things," said Carroll.

Not only does the competition provide discipline, but it also provides an opportunity for better education. Two years ago, Carroll partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to save the arts. Thurgood will provide $20,000 in scholarships for the upcoming event.

"I love to give back to the community," said Carroll.

The Battle of the Bands will take place on Oct. 21 at the O'Kelly Riddick Stadium. Tickets are $14 in advance and can be purchased at the NCCU Ticket office.

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