The Albertville High School Band has earned a reputation of excellence and has been considered by many to be the premiere band program in the state and region. Band Director Chris Lindley, who successfully led the program for the last 10 years, has played a major role in elevating the band’s status. But after teaching music education and leading bands for close to a quarter century, Lindley has decided to retire.
“I just feel it is time,” Lindley said. “I’m going to have more time and energy to focus on other career interests moving forward. I’ve been at Albertville nearly 20 years and we’ve been able to accomplish some great things together. The band is in a great position right now and I know that some great things are on the horizon for these Aggie Band students. I’m looking forward to seeing just how great they are going to be in the near future.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lindley had to break the news to his band members via Facebook.
“[It’s] certainly not the way you want to go out, you want to be able to look the kids in the eye and tell them how much you appreciate them,” he said. “In this time, we didn’t have that opportunity.”
Lindley said the response from band members and parents was overwhelming, and even though he was ready to retire, he wasn’t prepared for how bitter-sweet saying goodbye would be.
“It was pretty emotional for me,” he said. “When you are the band director at Albertville, that’s a once in a lifetime job. There’s not a community that supports their band any better than ours. When you’re fortunate enough to be the band director, you don’t take it for granted for sure … You just hope that after a span of 25 years you made a little bit of a difference here and there.”
Lindley began his career as a band director at Carbon Hill High School after graduating from Jacksonville State University in 1996. In 1998, he became band director at Saks High School where he served five years before joining the Aggies as the assistant band director. Lindley worked with head band director Curtis Burttram for the next seven years during which time the band performed in Hollywood Christmas Parade in 2003; in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2005 and 2008; and in the 2007 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
In 2009, Lindley officially took over as the head band director for the Albertville band.
“We are going to kind of keep things going like they’ve been going,” Lindley told The Reporter in July of that year. “The band program has been successful, and we are going to keep it going like that.”
And keep it going he did. Over the next 10 years under Lindley’s leadership, the Albertville Band would be recognized for its consistently excellent performances. The band twice marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California; received all superior ratings, the Bob Rush Award and overall Best in Class 4A at the Med-South Marching Band Competition in Gadsden in 2010; and earned superior ratings at the Renaissance City Marching Festival in Florence where it won best in class drum major, dance line and color guard also in 2010, to name a few examples.
“The Albertville City Schools Band Program is among the best in the state and southeast United States,” Superintendent Boyd English said. “Anyone who watches a performance on Friday nights in the fall or band concerts during the school year can see excellence at the highest level. Mr. Chris Lindley definitely has a lot to do with the success of the band program and building it into a true championship program. We are proud of Mr. Lindley and his accomplishments.”
Lindley has been active in the music scene outside of his duties as band director, serving as Principal Horn of the Gadsden Symphony Orchestra and performing with the Georgia Philharmonia, Rome Symphony Orchestra, Lagrange Symphony Orchestra and the Shoals Symphony Orchestra. He also taught as adjunct horn instructor at Jacksonville State University and performed with the JSU Faculty Brass Quintet.
Lindley has been singled out for his prowess as a director and for his role in elevating the reputation of the Albertville’s music program, earning the 2018 Outstanding Band Leader of the Year Award from Phi Beta Mu — an international honorary fraternity for bandmasters — and, most recently, being inducted into Jacksonville State University’s 2020 School of Education Alumni Hall of Fame.
“You never expect those kinds of things,” Lindley said. “You just put your head down and do your job every day and when they happen, they’re super special.”
While he may be retiring as band director, he’s not calling it quits. At 46 years old, Lindley said he will continue to teach music education on a part-time basis at the Albertville Middle and Intermediate Schools.
“Fortunately, Mr. Lindley will continue to assist our growing program to ensure that the Albertville Band Program continues to excel and serve future student musicians for years to come,” English said. “We wish Mr. Lindley well in his upcoming retirement.”
Lindley said he plans to enjoy his newly found free time with his wife and fellow band director Missy, and his twin daughters Haley and Katelyn, but he said he also plans to start his own side-business as a group travel planner, something he said he knows a lot about after traveling so much with the band.
Albertville High School’s Associate Director of Bands Taylor Cash will take over for Lindley as head band director.