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JBLM looking for Rising Stars

Northwest Guardian

Published: 12:30PM August 22nd, 2013

Aspiring singers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will each have a shot at stardom with the annual Operation Rising Star competition held at JBLM and simultaneously at installations around the world.

Competition begins with an audition round Sept. 5 at the Warrior Zone on Lewis North. Singers will start at 7 p.m., performing without instruments for a three-judge panel, which will choose 12 to move on to the main show.

Event coordinator Bill Strock said in past years locals have sung numbers from every genre ­— folk, pop music, rock, country and even show tunes.

In the following two qualifying rounds, Sept. 12 and 19, contestants choose one song and perform a second according to the week’s theme. The additional song will not be counted for or against them.

“It makes a good two-hour night,” Strock said. “It makes it worthwhile for the audience.”

Strock said the variety, from party songs to Beatles covers, keeps the crowd happy by providing something for all tastes.

The competition is fierce: judges make the first four-singer cut Sept. 12 and the second Sept. 19. The surviving four advance to the finals Sept. 26. The winner will receive $500 and earn consideration for the Armywide Operation Rising Star Finals at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, between Nov. 30 and Dec. 15. The finals will broadcast on the Pentagon Channel.

Each host installation will send a videotape of its first-place performances and more judges select the top 12 for the Armywide finals.

“I’ve seen people who definitely should have gone forward and didn’t,” Strock said. “It’s amazing every year the quality of people that come out of the woodwork.”

In addition to individual fame and glory, the unit judged to provide the most support to its singer will win the “Spirit Award,” along with a prize of $300.

The competition is open to active duty service members, National Guard or reservists from all branches of service. Family members are also eligible to compete, but they must be at least 18 by Nov. 6, 2013 and have valid military ID cards.

Anyone either currently or previously under a recording contract is not eligible, nor is anyone who performs in a unit band.

The competition is considered a stepping stone for anyone who wants to pursue a career in music, sing the national anthem at events or be a candidate for the All-Army Soldier Show that tours installations worldwide.

“All that stuff can help you in your career,” Strock said. “There are a lot of benefits that aren’t written down.”

Applications are available at the Warrior Zone or online at