By Pvt. Jamal WalkerOctober 12, 2009
CASEY GARRISON - Soldiers and Family members filled the USAG-Casey Gateway club Sept. 26 for support of the singers in the final round of the Operation Rising Star competition.
Operation Rising Star is an Army-wide competition sponsored by Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, giving Soldiers and their Family members the chance to record their own CD with three tracks in Los Angeles if they are the winner in the competition in Virginia, which will be broadcasted on the Pentagon channel. First place also will receive $1,000 and $500 will go to the runner up. Winners from the Warrior Country competition could receive $500, $300 and $150 for finishing in the top three of the competition.
The competitors faced the final round with tough criticism from the judges and the crowd as well. Command Sgt. Maj. Ancel Bartlett, 2nd Infantry Division Provost Marshall Office command sergeant major, gave tough criticism when needed to the competitors as he harped on the singers for their song selections, and how many of the competitors did not choose the best song to fit their voice.
Renee Tucker, USAG-RC Human Resources director, provided additional feedback to Bartlett's criticism and added to the command sergeant major's comments on how most singers instead of getting better from last week's performance fell backward. She said she really enjoyed some of the songs the singers chose, but she felt that it wasn't the best song for them at all. Tucker also acknowledged the creativity the singers gave as they sang well known songs like "Somewhere over the Rainbow," but changed the melody into their own rendition of the 1939 song.
Fred Ware, USAG-Casey business manager and the last on the three judge panel, complimented the competitors on their showmanship as most of the singers left the stage and began to walk around the club and stage while singing and trying to get the audience involved to the best of their abilities.
The judges; however, kept their comments short and filled with praise after hearing Sgt. Brian Jones, sing for them. Jones who was later named the winner of the competition, did everything right according to the judges with matching his voice, tone and range to the perfect song, "Just Once." The judges also applauded Jones on his ability to take some of the feedback they provided him within the previous rounds of the competition and put together a spectacular performance.
"I had to drift back to my 'old days' of choral singing when I was in high school and really change the way I have been singing in the competition these past weeks," Jones said. "This is a competition in the end, and you have to be ready to hear what the judges say and take back whatever criticism they gave you and use it to your advantage."