News: Rockin' the Blues in Gitmo
Story by Spc. Megan Burnham
By Megan Burnham
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – The opportunity for a trooper to both serve in the military and fulfill their life's dream is one that is hard to come by. Additionally, it is a task that requires excess time to an already busy schedule, and absolute dedication to achieving success.
For Navy Seaman Tommy Stanley, an engineer on the USS Kitty Hawk, the opportunity to become a serious musician began in February 2008 when he auditioned for the reality television program Nashville Star. The concept of this talent show is similar to American Idol; however, the performers are limited to country-style music.
The competition was intense against 45,000 other contestants, but in the end, Stanley made it to the finals. Stanley was later voted off in July but placed 8th in the top 12 finalists.
It was during the auditions that Stanley met Bill Marks, athletic footwear buyer for the Navy Exchange and U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay resident. After Marks witnessed Stanley's talent, he invited Stanley to perform in the 7th Annual NEX and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Customer Appreciation Weekend.
"Anytime we can tie in someone from the Navy or military, we do it," said Marks. "He plays as well as he sings and the type of music he played was something that everyone would enjoy."
After Stanley was voted off Nashville Star, he was placed on a temporary duty assignment to the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tenn. There, he performed in many concerts with the Navy Band Mid-South and the U.S. Fleet Forces Band.
During the NEX/MWR Customer Appreciation Weekend, Oct. 31– Nov. 2, Guantanamo residents were given three opportunities to watch Stanley perform on his guitar and sing his original music.
"It's an alternative type of music," said Stanley. "I wanted it to be that style someone is trying to look for, that mix between rock and blues."
Stanley's guitar-playing talent is derived from playing the past 12 years and singing since he was six years old. The constant feedback and support from his parents kept him motivated to improve as well as help him in his song writing.
"I want to write about love and life," said Stanley. "I received inspiration while underway, watching friends and family and seeing the interaction of love."
Stanley's time as a Navy engineer is coming to an end. He auditioned for the Navy Music Program in September and was accepted. He will be decommissioning from Kitty Hawk in early 2009 and begin Navy musician training at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.