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Band Staff

Akeem Downs
Chesnee High School
Director of Bands

Akeem J. Downs is a native of Duncan, South Carolina. He attended James F. Byrnes High School and was a member of the Rebel Regiment Bands under the direction of C. Philip McIntyre. Mr. Downs holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Winthrop University and a Masters of Education from Southern Wesleyan University. At Winthrop, Mr. Downs studied conducting with Dr. William Malambri and Dr. Lorrie Crochet, and percussion with Dr. B. Michael Williams and Dr. Jason Nicholson. At Winthrop, Mr. Downs performed in the Percussion Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Wind Symphony, Olde English Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, the Association of Ebonites Gospel Choir and sang in the Winthrop Chorale.

Mr. Downs has served as Director of Bands at Chesnee High School since 2017. Previously, Mr. Downs served as band director at Chapman High School, Lake View Middle/High School, Newberry High School, and served as Director of Bands at Gray Court-Owings Middle School, Hickory Tavern Middle School, as well as Assistant Band Director at Laurens District 55 High School, where his bands were state marching band finalist and ensembles under his direction received excellent and superior ratings. Mr. Downs is a member of the South Carolina Band Director's Association (SCBDA) - where he serve as a member on the All-State Committee, South Carolina Music Educators Association (SCMEA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.

Outside of band, Mr. Downs serves at the Senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC. Mr. Downs is married to Mrs. Latoya Downs and has three daughters.

You can hear Mr. Downs on "The Horsemen Band Podcast" on your favorite streaming platform and on Buzzsprout. 

Julie Keeling
Director of Bands
Chesnee Middle School

Julie Tran Keeling is the Director of Bands at Chesnee Middle School and the Assistant Director at Chesnee High School. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Converse College and is currently pursuing a Master in Music Education from Converse University. Mrs. Keeling is the 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year for Chesnee Middle School and Spartanburg School District Two Teacher of the Year!


While at Converse, she studied flute with Dr. Christopher Vanemen, piano under Dr. Douglas Weeks, and horn under Mr. George Wenger. She participated in the Converse Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, and various small chamber ensembles. She performed solo works in multiple recitals, master classes, and with the symphony orchestra as the 2014 young artist competition winner. As a student, she had the opportunity travel to Germany, France, and Argentina for various music studies and performances. Prior to her work at Chesnee, she was the Director of Bands at Jonesville and Lockhart Schools in Union County for two years.

Mrs. Keeling’s professional affiliations include the South Carolina Band Director’s Association - where she serve as a member on the Solo and Ensemble Committee, the National Association for Music Educators, and Pi Kappa Lambda. She is currently the flute instructor at Lawson Academy of Converse College and continues performs regularly at her church, Jesus Our Risen Savior and with the Converse Wind Ensemble. She attended Boiling Springs High School and was a member of the Bulldog Marching Band under the direction of Bryan Bone. She currently resides in Boiling Springs with her husband, Brad, and their three dogs. Mrs. Keeling is thrilled to once again be apart of the District 2 Schools working with the Chesnee Bands!

Adjunct Band Staff

Everett Hopper, Jr. - Colorguard Director

Brad Keeling, Brass and Visual

Santino, Brass, Converse University

Maggie Billings, Woodwinds, Limestone University

Camron Cogdill, Woodwinds and Visual,  Limestone University

Camden Cogdill, Percussion, Winthrop University

Brittany, Colorguard

Natasha Blackwell, Colorguard

Gary Frazier, Consultant

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