FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (Dec. 14, 2009) - The U.S. Army Forces Command's own Army Ground Forces Band returned to Atlanta's Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for its 24th Annual Holiday Concert Dec. 11.

And for the 24th year, the talented Soldier/musicians were a huge hit with the approximately 2,000 people of all ages who braved unseasonably cold weather to hear one of the Army's premier national touring bands perform the holiday sounds of the season.

"Our Holiday Concert is a major event we look forward to every year," said Major Domingos Robinson, the band's conductor and commander. "It offers a chance for fellowship in the spirit of the season and fulfills a special part of the band's community outreach mission."

While this concert is always perfect for the entire Family's enjoyment, this performance involved Family a little more than usual.

Guest soloist Melissa Fontaine, although not a Soldier herself, is part of the "band Family," because she's the wife of one of the band's trumpeters, Staff Sgt. Frank Briscoe. Besides singing "We Need a Little Christmas," "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" and "O Holy Night," she also led the audience in a rousing holiday sing-along.

The band's "extended Family" also took the stage during a special set by the band's Jazz Guardians ensemble when trumpeter Master Sgt. Kenny Hall's teenage daughter Kelli entertained the audience with a very vivacious version of "Zat You, Santa Claus'" with percussionist Master Sgt. John Jacobs.

In addition to the traditional and contemporary holiday music, video greetings from Spc. Angel Taylor of Sandy Springs, Ga., and Sgt. Matthew Sanders of Thomaston, Ga., were projected on a huge screen during the program. Both Soldiers are members of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and are currently serving in Afghanistan. Their Families were invited to be the Army's VIP guests at the annual concert, and they were recognized with enthusiastic applause by the nearly full house of their fellow citizens. Both Families were picked to represent all the other military Families with service members deployed far from home at this special time of year.

At one point, a contingent of children from the audience gathered on stage as local media celebrity and guest narrator Tom Sullivan read Clement Moore's "Twas the Night Before Christmas" set to a lively musical accompaniment.

Before and after the concert, plus during the intermission, attendees made their way to several stations in the lobby to sign the poster-size holiday cards especially created for the occasion, sending their best wishes to deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army Central Command representatives will deliver the jumbo greeting cards to camps in Afghanistan and Iraq where they will be displayed during the holiday season.

A jolly visitor from the North Pole, dressed in bright red and white, also made an appearance during the show, passing out candy canes to the excited children of all ages. He did bear a striking resemblance to the band's tuba player, Sgt. Eric Villalobos, though.

The 64-member Army Ground Forces Band performs about 300 concerts a year at local, regional and national events. It also conducts master (music) classes and clinics at high schools and colleges around the country. Soldiers assigned to the band have passed a highly selective audition, and they are among the finest musicians in the Army Band Program.

For more on the band and its upcoming performances, visit

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16