PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (Feb. 7, 2023) — Service members stationed at the Presidio of Monterey have proved yet again that the “Presidio Has Mad Talent.”
Not only can service members sing and dance, they play piano, guitar and violin as well. They also have the fortitude necessary to get up in front of an audience of their peers on a Friday night and perform with enthusiasm.
Six service members took home prizes of $100, $75 and $50 for first, second and third place during a two-night competition Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. The competition featured singing the first night and general talent the second night, and those who performed said they did it for the enjoyment.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Army Pvt. 1st Class Zoei Scott Williamson, who won the talent competition with her dancing partner Airman 1st Class Renee Scott. “We weren’t really looking for a prize. We were just out there to have fun, so the fact that we won is absolutely breathtaking.”
Army Pvt. 1st Class Gabriela Reed, who came in third in the talent competition for her rendition of “Honey Pie” by the Beatles, said she decided to participate because enjoys singing and it had been a while since she had sung in front of an audience.
Reed said she especially liked seeing the other performances during the show and it’s nice to see service members showing off their talents and having a good time.
Navy Seaman Joel Anderson, who came in third in the singing competition, said being able to get up in front of a live audience and perform again after Covid was a rewarding experience.
“Singing has always been a passion of mine and being able to share my story through song is one of the most influential things I can do as a musician, so I am thankful that the Presidio hosted such a competition,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he was shocked and honored when he won third place.
Steven Hossman, manager of the Staff Sgt. Kenneth R. Hobson Recreation Center, where the contest takes place, said he commends the service members who perform.
In addition to providing free entertainment for their fellow service members, they also help their military careers by getting used to performing under pressure in front of an audience, Hossman said. For example, it can only help in the future with tasks such as briefings, he said.
“It’s easy to do karaoke, but to get on the stage in the spotlight with your name up on the wall, it’s just a different feeling,” Hossman said.
The Presidio’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation holds the competitions every six months, Hossman said. They are open to active-duty service members and their family members who are 17 and older.
The competition couldn’t have taken place without judges, and those who volunteered said they were happy to help.
Navy Seaman Gideon Eele, one of three judges, said he volunteers at the Hobson as much as he can, especially for karaoke on Friday nights, and the reason is simple: “I go through class with these guys. I see how stressed people get during the weeks, and I love seeing everybody just trying to let loose on Friday nights.”
Likewise, Army Pfc. Kevin Davis, who served as a judge and master of ceremonies, said he was glad to assist because the competition gives everyone a chance to show their talents.
“The arts are great for not only boosting morale, but also for your mind and creativity,” Davis said, and that ultimately helps the Presidio’s service members, who are mostly students at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, learn their languages in class.
In addition to Anderson, Reed and Williamson and Scott, Navy Seaman Lyla Alvarez came in first in the singing competition with her rendition of “Anyone” by Demi Lovato; Seaman Apprentice Gabrielle Szigeti came in second in the singing competition with “Zombie” by the Cranberries; and Seaman Nathaniel Elgin took second place in the talent competition by playing the violin.
Performers received up to 30 points for technical ability and up to 20 points for stage presence, professionalism and audience enthusiasm.