News: Airman’s passion in singing landed a gig with 'Tops in Blue'
Story by Staff Sgt. Sheila Devera
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska – Airman 1st Class Alexander Ross’ last performance was singing the national anthem and the Alaska state song at the 673rd annual awards ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Feb. 7, 2014.
It was the biggest event at which he performed, and his first time performing with the JBER Honor Guard.
“No one told me that I had to wait for the Honor Guard to present the colors before beginning to sing the national anthem,” Ross said. “I waited for the Honor Guard to present the colors and started singing again.”
It was a graceful save, but his leadership didn’t seem to think so—or so he thought.
His commander, Air Force 673rd Logistic Readiness Squadron Lt. Col. John Harris, and 673rd LRG commander Col. John Pepin came to his shop and demanded to know what had happened.
He nervously explained his confusion and waited for the fallout.
“I think you need practice on that,” Harris said. “I think I know a great way for you to get plenty of practice. How about you go ahead and join the 2014 tour for Tops in Blue.”
The singer had been selected to join TIB; Ross said he was surprised and speechless.
“When I heard him say that, I was just standing there thinking to myself, ‘are you kidding me right now?’ My mouth just dropped and everyone was clapping,” Ross said. “I am still in shock. It hasn’t really hit me yet and this is crazy.”
The fuels technician was selected as a vocalist for Tops in Blue, the Air Force’s premier entertainment showcase, after submitting an audition video singing Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good.” A representative from TIB had asked Harris and Pepin to give him the news.
Ross is no stranger to performing. Before joining the Air Force, the Waynesboro, Va., native started singing in church with his family at a young age.
“Singing has always been a part of my life,” Ross said. “My father was a vocals major in college and I started singing with my family, creating our own three-part harmony pieces by performing in our local church.”
Having a musical background and talent helped him land a position with the TIB after being in the Air Force only 11 months.
“My father’s side of the family had a recording label with Jerry Lewis called ‘The Singing Ross Family.’ They used to travel and perform professionally back in the day,” Ross said. “It was something I grew up around.”
Even though his family have always been entertainers, he does not consider himself one, but he is hopeful TIB will help him achieve his potential.
“I think I have potential to be an entertainer,” said the 25-year-old. “I love performing for people because it makes them happy and it makes me happy. It’s something I like to do.”
The first time Ross ever heard of Tops in Blue was when he told his recruiter he likes singing as a hobby.
“[Tops in Blue] has always been on my radar but I did not have any plans to pursue within my first year in the military,” Ross said. “So I did not think this is going to happen like this, but I saw my opportunity and decided to go for it.”
Ross got that extra push in pursuing his dream after Senior Master Sgt. Ronald Crowl, 673rd LRS fuels management flight chief, emailed him the link to the Tops in Blue showing they were looking for a male tenor vocalist.
Crowl remembered his first interview with Ross after arriving on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“A1C Ross expressed that one of his interests were to be part of a band,” the 18-year veteran said. “The fuels management flight kept that statement in the back of our minds and months later an opportunity to participate in the Tops in Blue program came across the Air Force Portal and we immediately thought of him.”
Upon clicking on the link Crowl sent him, Ross reflected back, thinking, "You know what, I am going to try it out because I have done a couple promotion ceremonies singing the national anthem here [on base] and people really like it. So why not?"
His leadership and colleagues support Ross’s opportunity.
“The flight knows he is a perfect fit,” Crowl said. “Everyone is extremely excited for him to be a part of such a unique team. All facets of the chain of command were truly proud of him being selected.”
Since being notified in February, he only had a few weeks to get ready and his only sentiment for his Fuel Management Flight peers is that he is going to miss them.
“They’ve become my second family,” Ross said. “I just started to build those close relationship and I am going away again, so that is a little hard.”
As Ross’ song audition goes, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life.”
Ross will start touring with TIB in May.
To see Ross’ Tops in Blue audition, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmLbnvmQdeo