Spotlight on Director Kelly Fanning
Born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and educated in Atlanta Public and DeKalb County school systems, Kelly Fanning is Director of Bands here at Morris Brown College. He completed his degree in 2009 and has taught music in private institutions in the Atlanta. He has also served as guest clinician and adjudicator on the elementary, high school and collegiate levels. He came to Morris Brown in 1983 as a freshman, and has offered his services to the departments of Music ever since.
Although Mr. Fanning’s musical talent was recognized early in life, it was not until high school that he first picked up the trumpet. There he began the instruction needed to propel him forward into his musical career. Under the direction of Mr. Forest Hopkins (Roosevelt H.S.), and after just playing the trumpet for one year, he became the trumpet section leader of his high school band. Upon transferring to a different school, (Walker H.S.) Kelly became acquainted with his new band teacher, Mr. Eddie Ellis. It was during this time when he began to test his music writing skills. With dreams of writing music for a major motion picture, he penned a crude arrangement of “One in a Million.” It was at best recognizable; however with the encouragement of his teachers and fellow classmates, he continued to dabble in arranging.
While at Morris Brown College he learned to play over 30 instruments. The late Cleopas R. Johnson, Director of Bands saw “something special” in him and said; “One day son, you are going to lead this band.” While at MBC, he had the great fortune to study under many great music instructors such as Mr. William Revere, Mr. Henry Gilliam, Mr. John King, Mr. Asa Walker, Dr. Sara West and Dr. G. Johnson Hubert. Each of these professors equipped him with the skills needed to play various musical instruments with proficiency, and the pedagogy to teach music at various educational levels. However, the task of teaching him to write music was assigned to Mr. Paul Mitchell, Mr. Bill Brannon, and Mr. Paul Maghee. In 1984, the MBC Marching Wolverines played Kelly’s very first college arrangement, “No Parking on the Dance Floor” on national TV during a performance in the Egleston’s Christmas Parade in downtown Atlanta.
In 1991, Mr. Fanning went on to become assistant band director and the primary arranger for the Marching Wolverines. Orders to write arrangements for high school and college bands begin to pour in. His arrangements have been heard across the nation and abroad, including the Macys Parade, the Rose Bowl Parade, and at NFL events. Some of his featured works include arranging “I Told Yall”, “Been Away”, and Uh-oh” for the hit movie “Drumline.”
Additionally, Kelly has served as a contract musician/arranger with a myriad of ensembles and recording artists including The Purple Image Jazz Band, principal trumpet (ptp), The Atlanta Afro American Philharmonic Orchestra (ptp), The Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps, the Georgia Afro American All-Star Big Band (ptp), and The Directors All-Star Big Band (ptp). Some of his professional resume’ includes works with Bobby Blue Bland, Andre/Outkast, Dallas Austin, Ricky Smiley, Petey Pablo, “Street” Arrested Development (ptp), Spike Lee School Daze, and Burt Reynolds Sharky’s Machine.
In 2008 Dr. Pritchett, President, Morris Brown College, gave clearance to re-instate the band program and as of Spring 2011 has grown from it’s original 17 members to a core group of 30+ members. There are a number of band students receiving band scholarship to help off set the cost of tuition further proving the resiliency of the institution.
The new Marching Wolverines have made countless performances and appearances. Some of which include three appearances in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Parade, Pre-Game and Halftime festivities, the Phoenix City AL. and Columbus, GA College Battle of the Bands, The Atlanta Metro Battle of the Bands, DeKalb County and Clayton County School Systems Spring Jamborees, inaugural A.D. King parade, M.L. King celebration in Elberton, GA. Just to name a few.
Our band program is open to students who demonstrate advanced proficiency on traditional band instruments. Eligible students may audition for a scholarship by appointment. However, auditions may be waived, at the discretion of Mr. Fanning, based on a recommendation from their high school band director.