News: Operation Rising Star announces winner
Story by Sgt. James Hale
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wa. - What started with many was narrowed down to four. As time drew closer to the beginning of show, the two Soldiers and two spouses battled their nerves as they prepared for their last performance of the competition.
Hopeful singers from the military community were able to show their skills in hopes of winning a $500 prize Sept. 29 during the finals round of the Operation Rising Star singing competition at the Cascade Club here. Operation Rising Star is a singing competition where judges with entertainment backgrounds let the singers know what they think about each performance but the audience decides the winner.
The Army’s largest installations in the world each chose one winner. Ultimately, these winners will compete in San Antonio for the grand prize of an all-inclusive trip for two to Los Angeles, a three-song recording contract and the title of the Army’s 2011 Rising Star.
Danielle J. Embry, a military spouse and new mother, placed first and earned the chance to compete in San Antonio along with the $500 prize. Eva Hipps, also a military spouse, placed second and received 250 dollars. Spc. Reymond Wallace, a signal support specialist with the 56th Headquarters, Headquarters Detachment, placed third and took home $100 and Staff Sgt. Lamont Atkinson, a percussionist with the 56th Army Band, placed fourth.
The first contestant of the night was Embry who sang “Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder.
“I thought the competition was a lot of fun,” said Embry. “I have never been a part of anything like this and I had a lot of fun.”
Next up to show the judges what they can do is Wallace who sings “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly.
“I thought I was off the hook,” said Wallace. “Overall it was a good competition and I would do it again.”
The third contestant to take the stage is Atkinson who sings “Proud to be a Soldier” by Rockie Lynne.
“The competition was awesome,” said Atkinson. “There was a lot of great talent here and it gave me something to strive for each week.”
The last contestant of the night is Hipps who chooses “Stand Up for Love” by Destiny’s Child as her last performance.
“The best part of the competition was meeting new people to sing with,” said Hipps. “Since getting here, I hadn’t found anyone to sing with, and now I have some new friends and places I can go enjoy singing with them.”
“I think this is a great opportunity for soldiers and families to come out and have a good time,” said Elizabeth Thunstedt, a special events coordinator at the Morale Welfare and Recreation Center. “This event fosters community.”
Two judges with entertainment backgrounds praise the competitor’s strengths and offer advice on ways to improve their performances.
Darlene Begley, a retired entertainment specialist and judge for the competition, enjoys observing the contestant’s develop as entertainers, she said.
“I love watching these entertainers mature and grow throughout the contest,” said Begley. “This year we have some tough competitors.”
The contestants receive loud cheers of support from the crowd during the competition. After the first round there is a short intermission and then the final contestants return to the stage to perform one more song. The judges had already made their final decision. This round allowed the contestants to sing without the pressure of the competition. Members of the audience get up and dance along as the contestants sing their last songs.
Another part of the competition is the $300 spirit award. This award is presented to the unit who shows the most support for their contestant. The 170th MP Company win the award by having the most people in attendance and cheering the loudest for their contestant during each night of the competition.
After the competition is over and the winners are announced, the contestants retire to the restaurant area of the club. There they receive congratulations and answer questions from the audience members. They are given time to wind down with their families before returning to their regular routines leaving behind their small taste of the show business lifestyle.