Europe-based singing soldiers sweep contest
When someone breaks into song at an Army base in Europe these days, it might be like watching an episode of “American Idol.”
At least that might be the conclusion after three Europe-based soldiers’ performances at the Army’s Stars of Tomorrow Entertainment Contest.
Sgt. Aaron Talley, well known to radio and television audiences in Vicenza, Italy, for his broadcast work with AFN-South, took home top honors with a rendition of Harry Connick Jr.’s “Recipe for Love.”
Pfc. Jeanna Kilbane of Kaiserslautern, Germany, was second overall and the top female soloist. Sgt. Rodrig Olestry of Bamberg, Germany, finished third overall.
It’s not the first time Talley’s won an Army level award. A few years ago, he was honored as the service’s top broadcaster.
He’s been playing other people’s music more recently as the host of the local radio morning show, but it’s not like he’s not used to singing himself.
“I had my first solo when I was 4½ years old,” he says. “I’ve been on a stage basically my whole life.”
But he’s not planning to use the award as a stepping stone into show business, even though he plans to leave the Army after the start of the year.
“Being a big fish in a small pond is probably the best way to keep it,” he says. “I know I don’t have what it takes to make it on Broadway.”
Talley might be a bit modest, though, because he had to do more than just grab a microphone to grab best in show. He bought a nice suit from the local post exchange and then had some help in choreographing a routine.
And there was plenty of practicing, something he didn’t have time to do in the local competition in Vicenza.
A day after returning from a stint in Iraq, Talley took second in the local competition with a version of Frank Sinatra’s “Under my Skin.” He switched to Connick Jr.’s song for the Europe competition and won that in August.
Contestants based in Europe did well in other categories as well at the contest, which was held at Fort Belvoir, Va.
First Sgt. Wilford Velez and Spc. Christopher Webb of Hohenfels, Germany, were first in the specialty division, followed by Olestry and Spc. Perry Martin from Bamberg. Pfc. James Hall of Hohenfels was second in the solo instrumental category and third in the vocal self-accompanied division.