'Rising Star' leans on experience
November 22, 2011
VILSECK, Germany -- Tamara Stinson is not nervous about singing on national TV. Not yet.
Stinson, who won Grafenwoehr's preliminary Operation Rising Star in September, will compete for the grand prize in a national American Idol-style event, Dec. 11-17. The winner will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles, where he or she will benefit from the tutorial of industry professionals and record a three-song demo.
A polished singer with professional credentials, Stinson's performance chops and strong voice propelled her to the top of the Rising Star competition at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr.
Bob King, who attended two of the qualifying performances on Grafenwoehr, called her a "standout."
"She had great intonation," said King, who has a background in music. "You can tell she definitely had professionalism in her performance … she was polished and mesmerizing."
The Grafenwoehr judges felt a similar admiration for Stinson's talents. LaDawn Petersen judged all three preliminary Rising Star competitions in Grafenwoehr. Petersen, who has a master's degree in vocal performance, also judged the competition last year and was happy to lend her well-tuned ear for this year's round.
Petersen explained that, as a judge, she looked for "the whole package." This means that in order to score highly, a contestant must possess great stage presence along with a talent for singing.
"These two qualities don't always exist in the same person," clarified Petersen.
Stinson easily met these standards.
"Not only does Tamara have a great singing voice, but she is very comfortable on stage," said Petersen. "During her performance it was also obvious that not only did she connect with the music, but with the audience."
Stinson has honed her on-stage poise over years of shows and events.
"I have been singing for a long time. I was a band singer, a cover band. I'm comfortable in that arena. I've performed in front of a lot of people," explained Stinson.
Stinson began singing nearly as soon as she could talk. She joined her church choir at age 4 and created a gospel group with her two sisters shortly after. The group, which still performs whenever all three sisters are stateside, is named "Tres Sis." The group harmonized its way through a number of venues, from wedding receptions to dignitary events.
Later, as the vocalist for two bands, Stinson continued to broaden her performance repertoire, even if that meant singing at frat parties.
"That was the last resort," explained Stinson.
In a much more illustrious turn, Stinson performed twice at the fiercely competitive Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in New York City and even won once. She also sang as part of a rap group during the Jeff Foxworthy Roast that aired on Comedy Central in 2005.
With a lifetime of experience under her belt, Stinson is calm about the approaching Rising Star Finals. The competition is the next step in a passion and lifestyle for an adept performer. As Stinson explained, "You go through so many different stages thinking this might be my big chance."
Operation Rising Star Finals will be aired on Dec. 11, 13, 15 & 17 on the Pentagon Channel at 8 p.m. Central European Time. The judges' scores and viewers' scores each count for 50 percent of the overall score. To vote for a contestant, visit www.armymwr.com/recleisure/promotions/operation_rising_star.aspx beginning Dec. 11.