by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Twelve contestants from Peterson AFB, Schriever AFB and the U.S. Air Force Academy will battle it out vocally in the annual Front Range Stars show Sept. 10, which is modeled after the popular TV show “American Idol.”
Competition is expected to be tough as past contestants, former Tops in Blue vocalists and award-winning song writers, step on to the stage to try to earn the title “Front Range Star” of the three area Air Force bases. The theme is “Motown Magic” and the contestants had to choose a song from a Motown artist, said Tech. Sgt. Alyse Partridge, 21st Medical Group Life Support Program director and Front Range Stars event organizer.
Michael Wardingley, 21st Aerospace Medicine Squadron information manager, was in the competition last year and this year he’s hoping for a win with “Isn’t She Lovely,” by Stevie Wonder.
“I’ve been singing for 18 years, both in church and the civilian community,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to sing the national anthem at professional and collegiate sporting events and at military ceremonies over the last eight years.”
The winner walks away with a $250 cash prize, a trophy, and his or her base commander gets a trophy and bragging rights for the year, Sergeant Partridge said. Each year, proceeds from ticket sales are split between the Team Pete Junior Enlisted Association and one charitable organization. This year, the organization is Autism Society of Colorado Springs. According to Pentagon data, there are 13,243 autistic children among the 1.2 million dependents of active duty personnel.
Front Range Stars, in its fourth year, is no karaoke contest, Sergeant Partridge said. The performers are fully backed up by three singers and The Springs Band, whose members are former Air Force band musicians. Three judges – KKMG 98.9 radio host Romi, music director and musician Matt Lucci and Diane Myers, vocalist in the Velvet Hills Show Chorus, the Sweet Adeline’s (International) and performance music educator – will pick one winner after each contestant performs one song.
Four-time contestant Megan Becker, the daughter of Maj. Debra Arabia, 21st Medical Operations Squadron Women’s Health, has been “singing longer than I’ve been talking, according to my mom,” she said jokingly. She will perform her rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “You’re All I Need To Get By.”
“I love singing and I love getting to connect with the other contestants and coaches,” Miss Becker said. “The competition aspect is the least important to me; I just love getting up there.”
Sergeant Partridge proposed the idea of the singing contest four years ago. As the daughter of military parents, she grew up overseas where the bases hosted talent shows and singing contests regularly, she said.
“I’m a music lover and I’m a singer. There was nothing on base that showcased a person’s singing ability other than performing The National Anthem at ceremonies,” she said. “There are so many people on the three bases who are outstanding singers just waiting to have an opportunity to perform on stage.”
Auditions for this year’s show were held in July and more than 20 people tried out. From U.S. Air Force Academy, Maj. Stacey Blottiaux, 10th Medical Surgical Operations Squadron, auditioned because she loved the idea of performing with a live band and backup singers, she said.
“At the time, I did not know the theme was Motown, which was a bonus that I did not expect,” she said.
She’ll be singing “It’s My Turn,” by Diana Ross.
Schriever AFB will be represented by three strong competitors: Staff Sgt. Richard Justice, non-commissioned officer in charge of procedures in the 3rd Space Operations Squadron, who just won the “My Air Force Life” Original Song Contest in July; Robyn Weiss, a family member who came in second in last year’s Front Range Stars competition; and contractor Cassandra Collins, who is a former Tops in Blue vocalist.
“It is going to be such a great year,” Sergeant Partridge said. “This is a show you will not want to miss.”
If you go:
n Front Range Stars Singing Contest Finale; doors open 6 p.m. Showtime is 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Peterson AFB auditorium. Tickets are $7 in advance. E-mail Alyse.Partridge@peterson.af.mil for ticket information. Tickets are $10 at the door. Children under three years old are free.