Dr. Bill Braden (Birmingham, Alabama) is judging music ensemble. Dr. Braden is a retired high school and college band director and early childhood psychologist. He is the former director of the nationally-known Spring High School Band (Houston, Texas). While at Spring, his bands received numerous honors, including the esteemed University Interscholastic League of Texas honor marching and concert band. The Spring Marching Band was a Bands of America (BOA) finalist and was BOA National Champion in 1993. After completing a doctorate in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Braden served as a band director at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). At UTA, he taught music pedagogy courses and conducted both the symphonic and marching bands. Dr. Braden consults with several highly-regarded middle school and high school concert music programs. He also consults with indoor and outdoor pageantry arts ensembles. Dr. Braden judges marching band and indoor pageantry arts contests across the United States.
Chris DeBerry (Nashville, Tennessee) is judging percussion. Mr. DeBerry earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Trevecca Nazarene University. Currently, he is a band director in Middle Tennessee and music director for the Star Bright Players youth theater group. In addition, Mr. DeBerry stays involved in the pageantry arts as an adjudicator, clinician, and educator. He regularly judges regional marching band contests and for multiple indoor percussion circuits. He has served on the visual staff of the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps (Toledo, Ohio), and he has served as the percussion caption head of Music City Drum and Bugle Corps. Mr. DeBerry has rich performance experience, too. Currently, he is a percussionist with the Nashville African-American Wind Symphony. Other notable performances include an ensemble competition at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), a marching percussion clinic with MTSU at PASIC, and live performances with many artists, including the Nashville Jazz Orchestra. Mr. DeBerry was a member of Music City Mystique’s snare line for four years. He is very proud to be a part of the Innovative Percussion and Mapex/Majestic Percussion family of educational artists.
Dr. David Knowlton (Glen Carbon, Illinois) is judging visual effect. In high school, he was a member of the Briarcrest Band (Memphis, TN); in college, he was a member of Memphis State University's “Mighty Sound of the South,” the university’s indoor drumline, and the Bengal Lancers Winter Guard. Over the past thirty-five years, Dr. Knowlton has worked in eight states as a choreographer, musical arranger, designer, and instructor for k-12 schools, universities, dance companies, and drum and bugle corps. Dr. Knowlton has judged over one-hundred pageantry arts contests in fifteen states. He has completed many judge’s trainings, including ones sponsored by USBands and WGICertify. Dr. Knowlton is a Winter Guard International Circuit-Certified Judge. Dr. Knowlton is the producer and host of “The Learning Vibes Podcast” (www.learningvibespodcast.weebly.com); Vice President of the Board of Directors at The Jacoby Arts Center (www.jacobyartscenter.org); and a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he researches and teaches in areas related to Design Thinking, creativity theory, and evaluation of learner achievement. Find him at www.siue.edu/~dknowlt
Alicia Sharp (Knoxville, Tennessee) is judging color guard. Ms. Sharp has fifteen years of experience teaching color guard in East Tennessee. She has directed Winter Guard International (WGI) competitive guards both in independent and scholastic classes. In terms of marching band, she has served as a color guard technician, color guard coordinator, and visual coordinator for competitive high school bands. Ms. Sharp has performed in world-class Drum and Bugle Corps and Independent WGI guards. She holds a master's degree in Education and has taught high school English and Literature. Ms. Sharp is a level 200 WGI certified judge. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee with her two sons. Dr. J. Corey Francis (Nashville, Tennessee) is judging music effect. Dr. Francis is a musical arts consultant working with ensembles across the Southeast. He previously served as the Director of Bands at Vanderbilt University, where he oversaw the Spirit of Gold Marching Band. Before moving to Vanderbilt, Dr. Francis was Assistant Director of Bands at Eastern Illinois University (EIU). His responsibilities at EIU included directing the Panther Marching Band and Concert Band. He also taught courses in music arranging. During his time at EIU, the Panther Marching Band doubled in size and gained the praise of marching arts professionals. Dr. Francis also has served as director of various athletic bands at both Indiana State University and Georgia State University. At both institutions, his bands were award-winning and recognized for national-level excellence. Prior to his career in higher education, Dr. Francis served on the staffs of Alpharetta High School in Georgia and Taylor County Schools in Kentucky. He has adjudicated marching and concert bands in six different states. He holds a Master’s degree in Wind Conducting from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Murray State University. He also holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Southern Mississippi.