News: JBLM’s rising star named
Story by Sgt. Sarah Enos
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -Jennifer Peltier, an Army wife and part-time nursing student, won the 2012 Operation Rising Star military singing finale at the Heroes Lounge, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Oct.4.
Modeled after a popular television singing competition, Operation Rising Star is an annual Army Entertainment production for military personnel and their Family members.
Peltier triumphed over three other finalists, winning $500 and a chance to win the 2012 Army-wide finals held in San Antonio, Texas, in early December.
Awarded a check of $250 was runner-up Michaelange Walker, spouse of Cpl. Hassan Walker, finance management technician, 593rd Sustainment Brigade.
Walker, a native of The Democratic Republic of the Congo, said when she was 14 years old, music helped her get through the death of her sister.
“We were supposed to come to America together and I lost her about two months prior to coming here,” Walker said.
“Whether happy or sad, music has always been a big part of my family,” Walker added. “Singing has definitely got me through both the best and worse of times.”
The third-place finisher taking home $100 was Spc. Brian Wachtendorf, unmanned aerial vehicle operator, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, who dedicated his finale song “A Little More Time on You” to his wife.
While not placing, Tracy Coffey, spouse of Lt. Col. Ross Coffey, Security Force Assistance Team advisor, 2nd Brigade, was honored to make it to the JBLM finale.
“There are some really fabulous singers in this competition,” Coffey said. “I am more of a show tune person and competing in something like this is a way of keeping my foot in the door.”
When Peltier was 3 years old, her father encouraged her to sing her first solo in church and later she sang in choir. But until recently, when asked by family members what she was doing with her voice, she responded, “Singing in the shower.”
“I haven’t sung in front of an audience in over a decade,” said Peltier, a native of Tucson, Arizona. “Being up on stage feels amazing. I’m very nervous when I’m up there because I want to do my best.”
Showing support as she sang the winning song of the night, “There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill, were her husband, Spc. Christopher Peltier, military intelligence systems maintainer/integrator, I Corps, and two of her three children.
Peltier’s husband said he couldn’t be more ecstatic of his wife’s first place finish.
“She put a lot of effort into this competition,” Christopher said. “She was worried about her voice tonight because she was practicing so much, so she tried not to speak as much as she could today to save her voice.”
The roar of the crowd filled the room but the 5th platoon, 45th Military Intelligence Company was the loudest and liveliest during the course of the competition, receiving a $300 spirit award to be added to their unit’s morale, welfare and recreation fund.
“I think this whole program is fantastic,” Peltier said. “It’s an awesome and fun way to get Soldiers out here and show support through esprit de corps.”
“When I was about 7 years old, I heard Whitney Houston over the radio and fell in love with music,” Peltier said. “I want to sing to make people feel something, because of how it touches my heart.”
“Singing in this completion is giving me back confidence I lost in my youth,” Peltier said. “This is an opportunity to challenge myself and put the song back into my heart.”
A panel of judges will select the top 12 winners based on video performances from installations across the globe.
Peltier will know in mid-November if she was selected to advance to the two-week competition televised on the Pentagon Channel. Regardless of the results, it won’t set Peltier back because her ultimate goal is to praise God through song.
The Operation Rising Star grand prize winner and a guest will receive an all expense paid trip to record a three-song demo CD in a professional studio and $1,000 spending cash.