Army provides vocalist the best path to live out her childhood dream

By SGT Andrea Kent, U.S. Army NorthJune 11, 2024

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U.S. Army Sgt. Kayla Winslow, 323d Army Band singer, sings during the 323d Army Band’s joint Veteran’s Day concert with the University of Texas San Antonio Wind Symphony at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 12, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The Veteran’s Day concert celebrates the unwavering dedication and sacrifice of our brave veterans and pays tribute to the men and women who have served our nation with honor. From soul-stirring patriotic anthems to soulful melodies that capture the essence of service, this concert was a remarkable testament to the bravery and resilience of our veterans. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrea Kent)
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Sgt. Kayla Winslow, 323d Army Band singer, sings during the 323d Army Band’s joint Veteran’s Day concert with the University of Texas San Antonio Wind Symphony at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 12, 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The Veteran’s Day concert celebrates the unwavering dedication and sacrifice of our brave veterans and pays tribute to the men and women who have served our nation with honor. From soul-stirring patriotic anthems to soulful melodies that capture the essence of service, this concert was a remarkable testament to the bravery and resilience of our veterans. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Andrea Kent) (Photo Credit: SGT Andrea Kent) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Army North 323d Army Band vocalist continues her service as she shares her talents by singing the National Anthem at a football game in Seattle, Wa. on Dec 1, 2023.

“Fort Sam’s Own” Staff Sgt. Kayla Winslow is an Army vocalist assigned to the premier Army musical performing organization at the historic Fort Sam Houston.

As a child, Winslow was always singing. As time went on, her hobby eventually grew into something more serious and intentional, or at least to her. Others considered singing to be nothing but a child-like fantasy.

“I don’t remember a time not being into music,” said Winslow. “As a singer that’s something you can do as soon as you can talk. So, I remember singing as long as I can remember. I didn’t start studying singing until I was about 14. Though even then, singing still seemed like a pipe dream. I’d heard many people advise against making my hobby my job. That kind of scared me. So, I didn't really pursue it until I was out of college.”

After realizing that her favorite moments throughout the day were those when she sang, Winslow decided to listen to her own voice.

“I was teaching English overseas and singing with a bar band. I soon realized that my favorite parts of the day were when I was singing. So, I started looking for jobs where I could sing. I even considered working as a singer on cruise ships. But I've never been interested in being a starving artist in New York City or something. I found out that the military offered a salary, benefits, and music which was really appealing at that time.”

Eventually, the Army gave Winslow what she was looking for.

“I first auditioned for the Navy and then the Army,” said Winslow. “I was comparing those two options while going back and forth to MEPS.”

Due to her passion for music, singing, and performing, Winslow continued to endure despite a couple of bumps in the road.

“I went to MEPS and got declined and had to go back a couple of times,” said Winslow. “Your audition packet is only good for a certain number of months. I had to redo the audition a few times. There were a lot of different hoops to jump through.”

Similar to how eye color, blood type, and health conditions are passed down through DNA, Winslow feels that music found its way in there too.

“I feel like music, singing, and performing are in my DNA,” said Winslow. “I think for me, the reason I like singing is that it's a really easy way to communicate. Not only do I get to communicate with words but also with facial expressions. There are so many little things in the performance that can communicate differently with different people and then people sort of get what they need to. It’s not always about what I'm doing, but what people are getting out of it.”

Winslow’s father was the driving force behind her appreciation for music.

“Everyone in my family does a little bit of music,” said Winslow. “But it was my dad that really taught me to perform. He taught me to use music to communicate and to find meaning in the words that I’m singing, to be expressive, and really try to connect with people.”

Winslow was presented the opportunity once again to sing the National Anthem.

“The recruiting brigade reached out to us and we were able to fulfill their request,” said Winslow. “The ability to send vocalists is a resource that's available to other organizations too. It's a cool opportunity to be a part of this kind of thing, especially when I know that recruiting is such a tough thing right now.”

Winslow keeps it simple whenever she’s preparing for her performances.

“At this time of year, it's all about getting good rest and trying not to get sick. I am a big believer in drinking tea with honey and lemon and staying at home as much as possible. I just can't take the risk of getting sick.”

Simple rituals such as staying healthy has given Winslow the longevity that she’s needed to be able to accomplish some of her favorite performances of her career.

“Certainly, number one was when I sang the anthem for the anniversary of D-Day 75 at Normandy at Omaha Beach,” said Winslow. “That was just impossible to put into words. What a cool experience that was. Another accomplishment, which is very recent, is when I sang in Houston for the Houston Riots ceremony. The ceremony granted clemency for some of the wrongfully convicted Buffalo soldiers that were stationed in Houston back in the early 1900s.”

The sky is the limit for active-duty Winslow. She is open to explore how the reserves component would affect her life.

“It'd be very different, but it gives me the opportunity to move closer to loved ones,” said Winslow.

Music enables the force to amplify and share the Army’s values.

“Music can be adapted to fit all kinds of different situations,” said Winslow. Sometimes we have a ceremonial function. Sometimes we're involved with diplomacy. Sometimes we are doing an operational effort that is nonviolent, which is really cool, I think. And then sometimes we're supporting troops back home. Sometimes we're doing what I'm doing in Seattle, and that's generating effort.”

SSG Kayla Winslow has been with the 323d Army Band since summer of 2023. Though she may be leaving the active army she still hopes to serve her country by sharing her passion. Like the Bob Dylan and Adele songs she enjoys singing most she hopes to encourage listeners to love people relentlessly. Whether Winslow is active Army or Army reserves, the Army continues to provide her the opportunities to do what she loves as her selfless service to her country.