By Pfc. Mardicio Barrot (USAG Red Cloud)July 28, 2010
RED CLOUD GARRISON, South Korea - Decked out in black - denim jeans, a western snap shirt, cowboy hat and cowboy boots - he looked like he just arrived from the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., but this was Uijeongbu, South Korea. Then he performed.
Michael Avant from the 2nd Infantry Division Band, a four-time talent show winner, even without the aid of a musical instrument sang and danced his way in the hearts of an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd of about 40 Soldiers who gathered at Mitchell's Club here July 17 for a talent show.
Avant belted out a country and western artist Alan Jackson favorite - "Good Time" - the title track from his 2008 release of 17 songs that amazon.com calls "a dance floor, barroom anthem with a hint of Chuck Berry."
The talent show featuring six contestants who sang, danced and played musical instruments was sponsored by Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers. The annual event was held to give Soldiers an opportunity to get out and have fun with their peers in a safe environment.
Many in attendance not only had fun but were also impressed by the talent of their fellow Soldiers.
"I didn't know that Camp Red Cloud had this much talent," said Spc. Dwayne Duncan, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud. "All the performances were great, especially the cowboy. He got the whole crowd involved. I don't even really like country music, but I started tapping my feet and trying to sing along when he was performing."
Avant wasn't so sure of himself. He even admitted after his performance to being a little nervous.
"My music wasn't working in the beginning, but I knew I was going to be alright because I practice with my karaoke machine almost every day so I knew I was prepared for this event," he said. "The first guy who performed was really good so I knew I had to get the crowd involved to make my performance really exciting."
He succeeded. During his performance most of the people in the audience could be seen tapping their feet, trying to mimic his smooth western dance floor moves or enthusiastically clapping their hands to the honky tonk beat of Jackson, who has sold more than 50 million albums and had 34 number one hits, including three from his "Good Time" album.
"I was genuinely surprised that the crowd really got into it and started moving around a lot," Avant said. "They made me feel comfortable and I really started to enjoy being up there. It was a lot of fun."
While he is an accomplished musician who plays the trumpet in the band and talented performer, Avant was still surprised with the result.
"Coming in first place is awesome," he said with a smile. "I've been asked to go to the Army Soldier Show and I've won these talent shows four years in a row, but the competition here was great and it always feels good to bring home that first place feeling.
"The talent show was a really fun event. I'm glad that everyone who came out had fun and I'm glad to know that I contributed to some of that. Hopefully, in the future we can have even more Soldiers come out and participate because it's truly a lot of fun."
The runners up were Amanda Dunn, 2nd Inf. Div. Band, singer, and Dennis Kerr and Cristy Urbina, both of the 2nd Inf. Div. Band, who performed a salsa.