Story and photos by Rick Emert
Five finalists battled it out at the Elkhorn Conference Center Sept. 10 to see who would be named Fort Carson’s Operation Rising Star winner.
In the end, based on scores from the judges’ panel and votes from the audience, Family member Kymra Dorre, who sang “Unchained Melody,” earned the right to advance to the Army-level competition.
The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation event began with a Sept. 1 preliminary round at The Foxhole with 10 performers. The five selected by the judges to advance to the finals, all Family members, were Dorre, Varinia Herrera, Rachel Atkinson, Trinawa Murrill and Trellis Wheeler.
“They were all very good this year. It was a tight competition,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Marvin Cardo, commander of Ivy Division Band and one of the event’s judges. “Even in the final round, with the last five, it was very tight.”
The judging panel was comprised of Cardo; Gigi Holmann, Events and Entertainment, DFMWR; and Wayne Hoey, director of bands, Jenkins Middle School.
The top three finishers – Dorre, Herrera and Atkinson – each received cash prizes. The Family Readiness Group from 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, won a $300 spirit award for cheering the loudest during the competition.
The winner of the Army-level Operation Rising Star competition gets an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to record a three-song CD in a professional recording studio, according to the website at http://www.oprisingstar.com.
Dorre said her background in music helped chase away any butterflies she may have had before the performance.
“I was very excited,” she said. “I was more excited than I was nervous. I’ve been in plenty of musicals. I was in choir for most of my life. I’ve never really had a singing coach; I just have been singing since I was little.”
Contestants could bring Family and friends with them to the finals and the result of audience voting counted as 50 percent of the final score. Audience members could get extra ballots by buying food or drinks at the event.
DFMWR representatives videotaped the event and will send Dorre’s video to be judged alongside winners from other installations worldwide, according to Ann Edinger, chief, Events and Entertainment, DFMWR.
Judges narrow the entries down to the top 12 finalists. The finalists should be announced by Oct. 20, Edinger said.
In the Army-level semifinals and finals, audience members in person and online can cast their votes for the finalists; scoring is 50 percent judging panel and 50 percent audience votes, according to the site.
The website will have updated information soon, such as when people can begin voting online, Edinger said.