Inside The Line: Atlanta Drum Academy

by J.D.

unnamed-7Last month, the world stopped and watched as a pint-sized drummer, 5 year old Evan and all of his friends, stole everyone’s heart and proved that he had some serious drumming skills on Steve Harvey‘s ‘Little Big Shots.’  Evan has been studying drumming under Mr. James Riles III,  owner and operator at Atlanta Drum AcademyDrumlines Of America had a chance to speak with Mr. Riles about his students’ appearance on the national tv program.

Riles, a former member of Morris Brown College‘s infamous drumline, says that he started Atlanta Drum Academy as a way to share his gifts for drumming and teaching with others.  He credits this move to his experiences at the college and when he wrote cadences for the Drumline movies.   So naturally when Little Big Shots called, Riles says that he was very excited.  He also says that he did initially have a bit of hesitation as well because the group had previously auditioned, but was not chosen.  Riles knew that his group had to “go big or go home!”

One of the difficulties that Mr. Riles faced in preparing his students for their performance was that the show only called for 13 performers.  Atlanta Drum Academy has 40 students.  “That process was the hardest,” he says.  “The fact that there was an age requirement sort of helped.”  Once the 13 students were chosen, Riles says that he had a blast preparing the kids for and filming the performance.  Another part of the experience that stood out to Riles and his students was the Hollywood star treatment they received.

“They made us feel important,” Riles spoke of the trip.  “The airport trip was really cool too, because they picked us up in these nice vehicles and the driver had a sign that read ‘Atlanta Drum Academy.’”  He says the group also enjoyed the Hollywood Walk of Fame and being able to tour the city.  Los Angeles is a long way from Atlanta, but most among us would agree that these students earned every bit of it.unnamed-8.jpg

Mr. Riles told DOA that he is hoping for more national appearances for his students.  He also has his sights set on their very own practice facility for the future.  He says no matter how things turn out for the group, they are going to continue working hard and doing what they love.

For more information on Atlanta Drum Academy, please visit



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