JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO (Nov. 6, 2014) - - Sgt. Christiana Ball, the 2013 winner of Operation Rising Star, has been invited to participate in the music annual gala called "In Performance at the White House," today. The event will be hosted by President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Her star has been rising all year in a series of musical performances culminating in the nation's Capital.
"I've had an unbelievable year as the winner of Op Rising Star. Singing at the White House will be a great honor," said Ball. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reach out and show my appreciation of my veteran brothers and sisters both past and present. Even in these stressful times, I'm focused on the idea that I get to be part of such a fantastic tribute."
This year's program "A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House" will be a celebration of the men and women who serve the United States, featuring such nationally recognized acts as Mary J. Blige, John Fogerty and Willie Nelson, according to a White House press release. Grammy award winner Don Was will be the music director.
Ball, a 787th Military Police Battalion drill sergeant, outperformed 12 finalists from Army garrisons around the world and won the Army Entertainment's annual Operation Rising Star competition, conducted by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command.
"Rising Star has already opened so many doors for me to perform in my Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri) community, as well as to sing for televised sporting events and military ceremonies," said Ball. "I'm so grateful for having performed on national TV as a part of the Academy of Country Music Awards 'Salute to the Troops,' and I sang a duet with Lee Brice on his hit 'I Drive Your Truck' -- a song which captures perfectly the emotion of a survivor working through their pain of loss and grief."
The Army's Operation Rising Star program gives active-duty Service members and family members a unique opportunity to entertain their comrades around the world, and fulfill their own personal musical ambitions. The competition starts at the garrison and finalists are chosen from among the local winners to compete at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
The 2014 competition is currently underway and the new Operation Rising Star winner will be selected in December. More information about Operation Rising Star can be found at http://www.OpRisingStar.com.
"I was invited to be a judge for Fort Leonard Wood's [Operation Rising Star] this year," said Ball. "So I have definitely been following this year's competition and am very excited to see what talent ends up competing down in San Antonio for the finals this year."
"I've seen first-hand the positive effect that music has had and made on Soldier's lives," said Ball. "Programs like 'In Performance' give Soldiers a chance to get the recognition they deserve, and Operation Rising Star gives them an outlet and a chance to better themselves personally. It automatically makes for a more well-adjusted, purposeful and resilient Soldier."
"In Performance" will be available online at http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/live starting at 7:25 p.m. (ET). The program will also be broadcast at 9 p.m. (ET), Nov. 7, on Public Broadcasting Service stations nationwide, as part of their Arts Fall Festival.
The entire performance at the White House will also be broadcast on Veterans Day, November 11, 2014, via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
"In Performance at the White House" was created by WETA and has been produced every year, since 1978. WETA is the PBS affiliate serving the nation's capital. PBS is a non-profit network headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, with over 350 television stations distributing shows such as "Sesame Street" and "Antiques Roadshow."
This year, the "In Performance at the White House" series is part of the Joining Forces initiative.
Ball is slated to take part in a special daytime interactive student workshop "The Stars and Stripes Forever: A History of Music and the Military," for high school students from military communities in the greater Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas. Featured performers from the evening event will share their experiences as well as answer student questions about the music and entertainment world.
Joining Forces is a nationwide initiative by the White House designed to engage American society in support of our service members and their families. These efforts, championed First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, create opportunities for all Americans to stand up and show their gratitude for those who have done so much for the nation, through wellness, education and employment opportunities.
"When I perform, I look in the eyes of my audience and try to connect in a personal way," said Ball. "What do I see? I guess it just depends. If I'm singing to my people in Fort Leonard Wood, I often see a lot of pride in their faces, and rightly so. I can't wait to bring my voice now to an even wider audience. I'm representing the U.S. Army."
Ball will soon complete her active-duty contract and plans on joining the Missouri National Guard. The Army believes that every service man or woman who lives the Army values and retires is a Soldier For Life.
"I've created a band of my own now and have been performing as much as my job allows me. Our plan is to take off and do as many shows as I can," said Ball. "It will be an honor to have a chance work with the National Guard band, too. I can't wait."