David Starnes, director of the award-winning Pride of the Mountains Marching Band, will be inducted into the Bands of America Hall of Fame in March. Bands of America is a program offered through Music for All, a nonprofit organization based in Indianapolis that supports music and arts education for middle and high school students nationwide. 

Starnes is affiliated with Music for All as a consultant for student programs, camp director for a summer symposium and program director of the Bands of America Honor Band, which has appeared four times in the Tournament of Roses Parade and will appear in that event again in 2021.

“Bands of America has shaped my teaching and guided my philosophy of education throughout my 30-year career in music education,” Starnes said. “In reality, this honor belongs to the thousands of students who gave and continue to give me the opportunity to be called ‘teacher.’ Bands of America and Music for All afford them memories that will last a lifetime. Observing those magical moments for students is something I will always cherish, and I could not be prouder to represent my students through this honor. I feel incredibly thankful and enormously blessed.”

Starnes previously was founding director of bands at Kennesaw Mountain High School in Georgia, where he served for 11 years and his bands earned regional and national honors that included appearances in the 2005 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City and the 2006 Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. Starnes came to WCU in 2011 to fill a position vacated by the retiring Bob Buckner ’67, who served as the university’s director of athletic bands for two decades and led the Pride of the Mountains to the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in 2011. Bucker was inducted into the Bands of America Hall of Fame in 2005.

Under Starnes’ leadership, the Pride of the Mountains performed at the Macy’s Parade in 2014, and the band has been invited to make a return trip to that traditional holiday event in 2019. Also during his tenure, the Pride has performed as halftime entertainment for the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and at Bands of America regional competitions in Atlanta and St. Louis, as well as in exhibition twice for the Bands of America Grand National Championships.