ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The 12 semi-finalists for the 2010 Operation Rising Star live finals were selected by the U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command's Army Entertainment Division this week.

Based on vocal talent and stage presence, the semi-finalists were selected by 10 professional judges who viewed DVDs of the winners' performances from 31 installations and unanimously decided who will perform live at the Wallace Theatre on Fort Belvoir at 8 p.m Nov. 13, 15, 17 and 19.

In alphabetical order, they are: Sonja Ambrosino, a Family member at Fort Campbell, Ky.; Justin Black, a Family member at Fort Riley, Kan.; Spc. Jorge Cardona at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo; Shaunna Cook, a Family member at Kaiserslautern, Germany; Spc. Nicholas Davis at Grafenwoehr, Germany; Gavren Gimarino, a Family member at Camp Red Cloud, Korea; Melissa Gomez, a Family member at Fort Bragg, N.C.; Maj. Serelda Herbin at Fort Hood, Texas; Pfc. David Liddle at Presidio of Monterey, Calif.; 1st Sgt. (Ret.) Tracy Ross at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Pfc. Callie West at Yongsan, Korea; and Jacinia Whitfield, a Family member at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Videos of the semi-finalists' winning garrison-level performances are available for viewing online at

Local contests were held at garrison Family and MWR food and beverage facilities world-wide during Aug. and Sept., 2010. The contest was open to all Active Duty military and their Family members, ages 18 and older. FMWRC Marketing provided turn-key and standardized marketing and promotional kits to support these local events.

"The promotion is a true partnership between Marketing, Entertainment and Clubs to provide quality programs to Army communities world-wide," Rusty Rayzor, Director of Marketing, Family and MWR Command, said.

The finals at Fort Belvoir will be hosted by GeNienne Samuels, Captain of the Washington Wizard Girls and member of Sweethearts for Soldiers, the finals consist of three competition nights and one reveal show where the winner will be crowned.

During the first competition on Saturday, all 12 contestants will compete for six spaces at the Monday semi-finals. The final three will compete on Wednesday night.

At all competitions, the singers will be judged by a panel of celebrity judges, including Debra Byrd, American Idol voice coach; Michael Peterson, country music singer and Sgt. Maj. of the Army (Ret.) Jack Tilley. Joining the judges throughout the competition are: Josh Gracin, a recording artist and American Idol season two veteran who will perform during the show; Kandi Burruss, Grammy Award winner, recording artist, and star of The Atlanta Housewives, who will also perform during the show, and Bonnie-Jill Laflin, the first NBA female scout for the L.A. Lakers and an actress and model who founded Hounds and Heroes.

Lisa Pratt - the 2009 Operation Rising Star winner - will perform during Friday's "reveal" show.

"Operation Rising Star is a program of the U.S. Army Entertainment Division whose motto is 'For the Soldier, By the Soldier,'" said executive producer Tim Higdon.

"All of our programs, including the Army Soldier Show, are designed to highlight and present the "other" talents of our men and women serving, and in many cases, their Families, as well," Higdon said.

According to Higdon, programs such as Operation Rising Star are an important part of the wartime experience. They provide a release and an opportunity to decompress from the stresses of the mission, both as a participant and as a viewer. And with the inclusion of our Soldier's Family members, it makes ORS even more valuable to this mission.

"Operation Rising Star demonstrates, as do all of our programs, that Soldiers and their families are people just like you and me, with talents worthy of recognition and praise. In a lot of ways, programs like this are even more effective in boosting morale because they include Soldiers entertaining Soldiers. They've been providing entertainment for each other since the days where they sat around a campfire the night before a battle telling stories to one another. Entertaining each other has always be an integral part of Soldier camaraderie," Higdon said.

All four shows at the Wallace Theater are open to the public, and will be aired live on the Pentagon Channel and via streaming video through the Web. The Pentagon Channel will also air the shows in Korea and Germany; check local listings for times and dates.

Visit for show times, viewing instructions for computer, TV air times, voting policies, and details about VIP tickets.

For all other questions or concerns, contact ORS Executive Producer Tim Higdon at either or by calling 703-806-3698 (DSN 656).