By Presidio of Monterey Public Affairs and DLIFLC StratComOctober 30, 2013
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Sgt. Scott Harris, representing Company B, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion, walked away the winner of the 2013 local Rising Star competition at the Hobson Recreation Center here Oct. 25, touting a trophy and a check.
"I've been singing my entire life, but never won a contest," said Harris, who explained that he had played in cover bands for corporate parties, large benefit events, and even Las Vegas.
"There were a lot of good people in the show. It was nerve wracking. (We had) a lot of talented singers and people who have passion and are good at what they do" said Harris, adding that there was no room for error during the competition that started in September. "You had to be good every single week. … It was humbling to be around them."
A native of Virginia Beach, Va., Harris comes from a long line of musicians on both sides of his family. "My grandmother was choir director; my father's brother was a professional drummer. It is in my blood," said Harris, explaining that his music career during a 17-year gap in military service gave him the opportunity to open for bands and musicians such as Lonestar, Willy Nelson, and John Fogerty.
Operation Rising Star is the Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation's "American Idol" style singing competition for service members, families, and Department of Defense civilians.
The five finalists also included Pfc. Greg Norris, Pfc. Anthony Elliot, Airman 1st Class Jillian Grode and Marine Cpl. John Varkados.
They appeared before community members who encouraged all performers while showing their support for their favorite performer.
Operation Rising Star is Army Entertainment's premiere vocal competition that showcases the talent of Soldiers and their Family Members. Each year, garrisons around the world host local talent contests and send in their winners' videos for judging. The competition is open to adult service members and military family members, 18 years and older. Operation Rising Star is in its ninth season and supports the Army's commitment to deliver high quality programs for Soldiers and their Families that support resilience.
Twelve individuals are selected to compete in the Army Wide Final competition. Through an online voting process in which everyone can participate, one performer is declared the winner. The Army-wide final competition can be seen on www.armymwr.com in December.
The winner of Operation Rising Star represents the best in individual vocal talent in the military and is awarded a custom recording experience.
"Operation Rising Star demonstrates … that Soldiers and their families are people just like you and me, with talents worthy of recognition and praise. In a lot of ways, programs like this are even more effective in boosting morale because they include Soldiers entertaining Soldiers," said ORS Executive Producer Tim Higdon.
They've been providing entertainment for each other since the days where they sat around a campfire the night before a battle telling stories to one another. Entertaining each other has always been an integral part of Soldier camaraderie," said Higdon.
Harris, who is a student of French at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, received $500 for first place. Other prizes were $250 for runner-up, and $100 for third place, along with a $300 spirit award to encourage audience participation.
The grand-prize winner receives an all-expense paid trip to for a three-day professional recording studio experience, which includes a three-song demo compact disc and $1,000 in spending money.
The professional studio time includes musicians, music arrangement, mixing and mastering, a vocal coach, an audio engineer and a CD producer. The approximate retail value of the prize package is $18,700.
Last year's local Rising Star winner, Spc. Constance Mack, was chosen the 2012 Operation Rising Star.