Singers dazzle audience at ‘Operation Rising Star’ 2010

| September 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

The family readiness group from the 2nd Sqdn., 14th Cav. Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID, competes for a $300 Spirit Award.

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — The ear-splitting screech of an air horn blasts through Tropics Recreation Center, here, as its enthusiastic owner, yells, “Who are we?”

“HHD!” is the response.

“Who are we?”


And so on, until the group clad in black T-shirts emblazoned with baby blue letters denoting the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, is shouted down by two other spirit teams. 

One team wears white T-shirts adorned with the letters “2-14,” denoting the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. The other team has donned artillery-scarlet T-shirts, representing the 2nd Bn., 11th Field Artillery Regt., 2nd BCT, 25th ID.

This friendly display of unit esprit de corps was part of the festive atmosphere, Sept. 17, here, designed to encourage seven finalists competing for the top spot in the “Operation Rising Star” singing competition.

Patterned after “American Idol” and similar televised competitions, the contest shines the spotlight on vocalists, who are judged by a panel of judges and an audience of their peers. Singers competed for the chance to win the local first place prize of $500. 

At the end of the three-hour event, the judges and audience chose Tracy Ross, a retired Army first sergeant, as first place winner. 

Ross, who has 22 years of service as an aircraft weapon systems repairer, sang “Unchained Melody.” 

“I chose ‘Unchained Melody’ for a couple of reasons,” Ross wrote, in an e-mail. “First, I felt that this song would appeal to the masses. Secondly, it featured a wide vocal range. And last but not least, it provided me the ability to play with the music and give it my own (rhythm-and-blues) flavor.” 

He compared his vocal style to that of Peabo Bryson, whom he counts as one of his inspirations.

As first place winner, Ross now advances to the Armywide competition for a chance to win an ultimate recording music experience: record, mix and master a demo with studio professionals. The prize includes a three-day trip to Los Angeles for the winner and a guest.

Ross said that he feels honored to represent U.S. Army-Hawaii at that level.

Tracy Ross, a retired Army first sergeant, won first place.

Like Ross, who started singing in church as a child, second- place winner Jennifer Tavarez started singing as a youngster.

“I would grab the hair brush (to represent a microphone) and sing in the bathroom mirror,” she wrote, in an e-mail.

For both, the 2010 competition was the first time either had entered Operation Rising Star. 

“I am just excited to have been able to do something I absolutely love doing, while representing my husband’s unit, the (205th MI Bn., 500th MI Bde.),” she added.

Her winning selection was Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name.” She chose the song “because it was fun, filled with attitude and it really engaged the audience.”

“If singing is your passion, then go for it,” she said. “Unless people have a passion to do something, they will either not do it, quit or do it halfway. However, if a person truly has a passion to do something, they will do it and do it extremely well.”

Third-place winner Spc. Parker Ward, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, performed Sublime’s “What I Got,” the first song he learned to play.

He has been playing music since he was 9. Reminiscing in an e-mail, Ward credits an uncle and a cousin for “showing (him) what being a musician is all about.” 

Ward encourages Soldiers to try out for next year’s Operation Rising Star. 

“If you have any musical experience and are comfortable on stage, play one cover and then do nothing but originals, if you are confident in them,” he said. “If you don’t have musical experience and just want to get up there, do it! There is no better way to experience the musical scene than to just jump in.”

Operation Rising Star finalists
•First place ($500): Tracy Ross, U.S. Army, retired
•Second place ($250): Jennifer Tavarez, family member
•Third place ($100): Spc. Parker Ward, HHC, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID
•Spirit Award ($300): HHD, 500th MI Bde.

Additional finalists
•2nd Lt. Hannah Hawtin, HHD, 500th MI Bde. 
•Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Nelson, HHC, 45th Sustainment Bde., 8th Theater Sust. Command 
•Spc. Marculus DeFrance, 209th Aviation Support Bn., 25th Combat Combat Avn. Bde., 25th ID
•Angela Nelson, family member

To see the winning performances, visit See more photos on Flickr.

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