• Victor Hurtado (front with microphone), reigning Operation Rising Star Spc. Richard Sianoya (center) of Fort Irwin, Calif., and host GeNienne Samuels, a former Washington Redskins Cheerleader, dance with the finalists in the 2008 Operation Rising Star military singing contest Oct. 13 at Wallace Theater on Fort Belvoir, Va.

    Rising Star Finalists

    Victor Hurtado (front with microphone), reigning Operation Rising Star Spc. Richard Sianoya (center) of Fort Irwin, Calif., and host GeNienne Samuels, a former Washington Redskins Cheerleader, dance with the finalists in the 2008 Operation Rising Star...

  • Fatiima McElveen (left), an Army family member attending Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., listens to a judge's critique of her performance of "At Last," alongside Operation Rising Star host GeNienne Samuels, a former Washington Redskins Cheerleader, during the final round of competion Nov. 13 at Wallace Theater on Fort Belvoir, Va.

    Family Finalist

    Fatiima McElveen (left), an Army family member attending Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., listens to a judge's critique of her performance of "At Last," alongside Operation Rising Star host GeNienne Samuels, a former Washington...

FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Online voting for the Military Vocalist of the Year in the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation-sponsored "Operation Rising Star" Contest will be open until 10 a.m. Friday at <a href="http://www.OpRisingStar.com"target=_blank>www.OpRisingStar.com</a>.

Twelve competitors performed Wednesday at Wallace Theater, and the field was pared to six finalists who sang with the accompaniment of the U.S. Army band on Thursday atop a dazzling stage built by members of the Army Entertainment Division.

The finalists, in order of Thursday's performances, are:

Aca,!Ac Army Staff Sgt. Victor Trinidad of Fort Lewis, Wash.
Aca,!Ac Joyce Dodson, an Army dependent from Schweinfurt, Germany
Aca,!Ac Army Spc. Cyril Powell of Fort Bragg, N.C.
Aca,!Ac Fatima McElveen, an Army dependent from Fort Campbell, Ky.
Aca,!Ac Air Force Staff Sgt. Dirik Cole of Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras
Aca,!Ac Army Pfc. Star Exum of Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.

The finalists emerged from a competition that began on 47 Army installations worldwide, including forward-deployed camps in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They were selected by judges Jaci Velasquez, a Grammy-nominated Latin recording artist; Nigel Caaro, producer of "America's Got Talent;" and retired 12th Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley, who returned to critique talent in the contest formerly known as Military Idol.

"I have been fortunate enough to judge this competition for three years, and every year it gets better and better," Tilley said. "With the deployment and stress on the military, I think it's important to get the family members involved in the contest and showcase their talents. I'm always amazed at the quality of performances."

Online viewers can watch Thursday's show and cast votes at www.OpRisingStar.com. The winner will be announced Friday during a 1 p.m. live broadcast on the Pentagon Channel.

Thursday's show also featured appearances by Navy Lt. Andrew Baldwin of ABC television's "The Bachelor" reality show and reigning Operation Rising Star Spc. Richard Sianoya of Fort Irwin, Calif. Sionya sang "When You Say Nothing at All."

The live finale Friday is open to the public and there is no admission charge. The Wallace Theater doors will open at 12:30 p.m. for first-come, first-served seating.

(Tim Hipps writes for the Family and MWR Command)

Page last updated Thu November 13th, 2008 at 18:04