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BAMBERG, Germany — A Bamberg-based Army reservist has won the 2011 Operation Rising Star military singing contest, the military equivalent of “American Idol,” and will be flying to Los Angeles for a recording contract and to attend the Grammy Awards in February.

Sgt. Melissa Neal, assigned to the 457th Civil Affairs Battalion in Bamberg, won the Dec. 15 contest at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, with a rendition of “Faithfully,” by Journey. Her winnings include $1,000 in cash, an all-expenses-paid recording package to Los Angeles valued at more than $18,000, as well as tickets to the Grammys in February, including entry to a party afterward.

At Fort Sam Houston, Neal was up against 11 other singers from different military branches. She said she picked her songs carefully based on her ability to have fun while performing and the chance to show a little personality.

“I think you have to know your song and have fun with it, or there is no point in singing in the first place,”” she said.

From staff reports


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