John Phillip SousaBand leader
John Phillip Sousa stands as one of the most significant composers in American music. Raised in Washington D.C. by professional musicians from Portugal, Sousa found fame as the director of the U.S. Marine Corps Band. As a bandleader and composer, he specialized in brass band marches like “Stars and Stripes Forever," "El Capitan," and "Semper Fidelis.” During Sousa’s lifetime brass band were immensely popular in the U.S. Groups like labor unions, colleges, and communities formed brass bands, often based on the members' experience in military marching bands. The popularity of brass bands, coupled with the expertise of the musicians, helps explain why brass bands were so nearly ubiquitous in the first two decades of recording.