By Tina Ray/ParaglideMay 13, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - When Sgt. Christopher Fairley was a youngster growing up in Moss Point, Miss., he would not dare sing in front of friends, Family or even strangers.
Fast forward a decade or so, and the 33-year-old is quickly gaining a reputation around Fort Bragg as an accomplished singer.
Fairley, a mechanic with the 618th Engineer Company, 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, recently sang the national anthem at the Women's History and Holocaust remembrance ceremonies.
Fairley said he grew up on Bobby Blue Bland and Bobby Womack, Def Leppard and Hall and Oates. Being able to sing and master those influences, he said, helped him earn a spot as a student at the Army Band Vocalist Sustainment course May 3 to 28.
The training will take place at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia Beach, Va. It will include instruction on dramatic concepts, music preparation and the fundamentals of reading music and one-on-one coaching. Fairley will also learn to master patriotic songs like "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful."
Major Charles Geter is an Army Reservist who serves with the 6th Battalion, 108th Regiment, 100th Division, and sings in a gospel group called "Just Brothers" with Fairley and a rotation of six to seven other members.
Geter first learned of Fairley's singing skills in 2005. He said he was "blown away" by Fairley's talent.
"He's an amazing vocalist; (with) amazing control and really beautiful tone," said Geter. "As far as vocal ability, he can do just about anything."
Master Sgt. Shaylon Tarver agreed.
"Sergeant Fairley, who has a phenomenal voice, did an amazing job at the last two observances. It's always good to see such superb talent come from within the ranks. He is very gifted and a great person to know," said Tarver, noncommissioned officer in charge of the XVIII Airborne Corps Equal Opportunity.
When Fairley is not singing with "Just Brothers," or at military functions, he spends time in a High Point studio recording songs he has written. One such song is "Seems like Yesterday," written in November to honor fellow Soldiers, he said.
Fairley records under the name Lakeith. The two latest albums are titled "Project Demo," which contains "Seems like Yesterday" and "21 after."
"Seems like Yesterday" can also be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/lakeith123, or for more information, visit Fairley's website at www.cristopherlakeith.com.
Previously, Fairley performed with the Army Europe Band and Chorus, which took him to Kosovo, Bosnia, England, Switzerland, Amsterdam and other destinations.
Fairley, who typically sings on the scale between second soprano and baritone, but favors first tenor, has shared the stage with acts like Hootie and the Blowfish, Tyrese, Ideal, Craig David, Monica and The Manhattans.
Once he completes the vocalist course, Fairley can potentially be re-classified as a vocalist in the Army Band.
The Army, he said, has allowed him and his Soldier wife, Spc. Sharonda Fairley, to provide stability for their two sons, Michael and Keondre.
He said he welcomes the opportunity to perhaps reclassify his military occupational specialty to vocalist.
"I am excited to be able to perform for fellow Soldiers and civilians while doing what I have an extreme passion for," Fairley said.