As a child in Atlanta, Cecil Diamond took to music like a proverbial fish to water, teaching himself how to play the piano, the acoustic guitar, and what would come to be his favorite instrument, the saxophone. After his high school graduation, Cecil would play his sax on the streets of downtown Atlanta for extra money. During one of these impromptu performances, Cecil’s inspired play caught the attention of legendary Jazz man, Earl Cunningham who offered young Cecil a spot on his national tour.
Word about Cecil’s talent, musical ear and versatility began spreading like wildfire leading to performance and studio sessions with everyone from Miles Davis to Charlie Parker. Even though his career was exploding into the stratosphere, Cecil did not turn a blind eye toward his education, enrolling at GAMU and taking classes during breaks in his touring schedule, eventually graduating from GAMU with a PHD in Music.
During the late 1970’s Cecil and a few talented musicians formed a soul/disco group called GEM STONE whose sound, because of Cecil Diamond, was way ahead of its time. After several number one hits and a pair of Grammy nominations, the group broke up due to creative differences.
Cecil continued his musical career, writing music for films and touring across the world performing his vast catalogue of music for his devoted fans. In late 1987, during one of his trips back to GAMU, the then band director DARIUS HOBBS asked Cecil to be a special guest performer during Georgia A&M’s homecoming performance. As he performed with the band, Cecil realized that he felt at home of the field with them, that this was the place that he needed to be.
After that performance, Cecil stayed on as Associate Band Director and became of Professor of Musical Theory as well. In 1990 he took the band over from Darius Hobbs and has been at the helm of our Marching Mountain Cats ever since. During his tenure, GAMU played for everyone from Presidents to Emperors, receiving the moniker of “America’s Marching Band” Barack Obama himself.
To this day, Cecil Diamond and his Marching Mountain Cats continue to push the musical envelope, creating a unique sound that can never and will never be duplicated.