By Staff Sgt. Daphney Black, 14th Public Affairs Detachment
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles that will run during March to commemorate Women’s History Month.
FORT CARSON, Colo. — As a little girl, she dreamed of becoming a rock star. She was determined and hopeful. She believed with her whole heart that one day she would follow her dream — becoming a musician.
“I always saw myself being a musician, and this is going to sound a little bit silly, but I always saw myself as being a singer, maybe a rock star,” said Staff Sgt. Katherine Bolcar, a vocalist with the 4th Infantry Division Band.
Sitting inside a practice booth surrounded by musical instruments, Bolcar shared her journey to becoming an Army musician.
The gift to begin the passion
One day, when she was about 9 years old, she received a gift from her grandfather.
“He had a flute that he had played while my mother had flute lessons,” Bolcar said. “So he would sit outside the door listening to the flute lessons, and then when the flute teacher left, he would sit there and play with her. Well he gave me that flute. Ever since then, I thought it was just the coolest thing to be able to play music for other people.”
Bolcar had always been around music; she was born into it. She grew up surrounded by different types of music and performers.
Some of her earliest memories are of her mother singing in the car.
“She had this natural ability to harmonize with the radio,” Bolcar said. “She used to have me seated on her lap; that’s how old I am, and I could feel the music,” she added with a smile.
Her family was always supportive of her dreams. She said she was fortunate to have a family who encouraged her to go after what she loves.
“There is a picture of me with my brother and my cousin,” she said. “My brother had this little toy drum set, my cousin had this little toy guitar, and of course, I had a toy microphone. I have always had that drive to be really good at music, to attempt to be good at it.”
Little did Bolcar know that everything she did over the years would lead her to where she is today.
Finding her path
“The military aspect of it came later,” Bolcar said. “Learning about those options of serving, I would never have guessed that I could sing in the Army.”
After earning a master’s degree in vocal performance, Bolcar spent some time teaching music in high school.
That was in 2009 when Bolcar joined the 319th Army Reserve Band, Fort Totten, New York. Two years later, she transitioned to active-duty Army.
“I really loved teaching high school, but I ended up really loving what we do as Army musicians and what we do to make people’s lives more bearable,” Bolcar said. “When there is a hard thought, music can really reach into that Soldier’s mind and make that hard thought a little bit easier. I just wanted to do that full time; I loved it so much I wanted to do it nonstop.”
The fact that she can serve as a musician drew her in.
“I love the idea of serving, and then making music on top of it is a bonus,” Bolcar said. “I had studied to be an opera singer, but I don’t do it anymore because I found my place here.”
According to Bolcar, being able to do what she absolutely loves to do — singing and serving — feels easy even when it is not.
“I have a master’s degree in vocal performance, but I still take lessons just to make sure that I am at the industry’s standard,” said Bolcar. “Not just for the Army but the entire music world. We take lessons, we go to professional development, not just for Soldier skills and NCOPD (Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development), but we go to professional development like a convention for music. So that way we stay at the top and provide the best quality music for our country.”
Bolcar personifies all that is good about Army music and is an excellent representation of the rest of the Soldiers in the band, said 1st Sgt. Carlos Salas, first sergeant, 4th Inf. Div. Band.
“She is a versatile vocalist and is a passionate performer,” Salas said.
Salas said he believes that Bolcar’s skills may differ from the rest, but she is an excellent example of the talent within the band.
“Her dedication to ensure her performance and that of her team is engaging, entertaining (and) captures the attention of the audience,” Salas said. “She lives in the moment during performances. Rather than just singing a tune, she performs the tune. She captures the emotion it takes to perform any piece and in doing so, delivers the intent of the composer/songwriter.”
While Bolcar is passionate about singing and its effect on others, music will always be that reminder of her number one fan — her mother.
“Not too terribly long ago, my family lost my mother to breast cancer after about 18 years of fighting it,” Bolcar said. “All through it, she came to every single performance and every single show, and now music is a reminder of that kind of love she showed my family throughout her whole life.”
Bolcar is grateful for the experience of serving as a musician. The Army has paved the way for her to fulfill her dream while serving her country, she said.
“It is a treasure and a gift to do what we do because not everybody can do it, Bolcar said. “Everybody can make music, but we don’t all get the chance to do it in this capacity. Just like so few folks can even serve in the military, it is even smaller for our field. It may sound cliché, but it really is an honor to do what we do.”