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    Women in the Air Force Bands: A Call to Music, A Call to Serve

    The U.S. Air Force Band’s Storytellers concert kicks off Women’s History Month

    Photo By Kristen Wong | U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Emily Wellington, the U.S. Air Force Band’s...... read more read more



    Story by Anastazia Clouting 

    Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling

    For many women in The United States Air Force Band, music is an early calling, paired with a call to serve. Senior Master Sgt. Emily Wellington, an alto vocalist with the Singing Sergeants reminisced, “My mother and father were both in the Air Force Band, and my mother taught me to sing. I fell asleep to the sound of her vocal warm-ups after she tucked me in.”

    Wellington continued, “One of my standout musical memories with the Singing Sergeants was deployment to the village of Tamga, in Kyrgyzstan (Central Asia). It was amazing – they’d never seen Americans before. We played American and Kyrgyz folk music, and students erupted in dance. We changed their impression of Americans. Music bridged the gap!”

    Chief Master Sgt. Stacey Newbrough Ascione is the principal flutist for the United States Air Force Concert Band. She also leads the Singing Sergeants and Max Impact, the band’s rock group. Ascione recalled first seeing the band on her music teacher’s posters. Later, she said, “The Air Force Band came to my hometown and I was blown away. Towards the of my master’s program, I saw a band poster on the wall advertising vacancies with postcards. I mailed one back!”

    Ascione continued, “one of my most powerful experiences was touring with the band after 9/11. After our first concert, everyone was on their feet. Many were clearly moved and waving flags. I then realized the impact of a musician in uniform. Music circumvents a variety of defenses – national, psychological – and becomes more about the people in the audience.”

    “Music is about uplifting and honoring people,” echoed Master Sgt. Christine Purdue Jones. Jones is the Assistant Drum Major for The United States Air Force Band, and leads as section chief of ceremonies and protocol, including military funerals.

    “One of the standout missions was leading the funeral of Charles McGee, one of the last Tuskegee Airmen,” Jones remembered. “He was not only a part of history, but a longtime friend of the Band. There’s also the personal aspect of supporting the families. [We gather to] celebrate an Airman who is both part of the country’s history, and the family’s legacy.”

    The history of The Air Force Band is intertwined with the musical legacy of postwar America, which served as the foundation of the Airmen of Note, the band’s jazz ensemble. This music is a family mission for alto vocalist Staff Sgt. Clara Campbell, whose brother, trombonist Tech. Sgt. Nate Campbell, is also in the Airmen of Note.

    “My mom taught me piano…I fell asleep to my parents singing,” said Campbell. “I chose music as my own calling at around 11 or 12…[following] the lineage [of great female vocalists]. Before I was even thought of, there were people paving the way for me. I’m here because women before me did the work in the arts, in the world.

    “No matter who you are, or what music is played, there’s always something that’s going to resonate with you. Everyone can come together [for] a shared experience that you can’t replicate. That’s my favorite aspect – every night [is a special edition].”



    Date Taken: 03.29.2023
    Date Posted: 03.29.2023 12:35
    Story ID: 441460
    Location: WASHINGTON , DC, US 
    Hometown: IOWA CITY, IA, US
    Hometown: LAFAYETTE, IN, US
    Hometown: LEMOYNE, PA, US
    Hometown: SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US

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