WASHINGTON -- When producers of the Concert for Valor requested the Air Force Singing Sergeants to croon with Carrie Underwood on stage Nov. 11, the 23-member active-duty chorale group didn’t hesitate to step up and represent Airmen and all veterans.
The Singing Sergeants’ performance at the star-studded televised veterans tribute with Underwood awed the sea of more than 300,000 active-duty service members, veterans and family members, who filled the National Mall with deafening cheer and enthusiastic praise.
Many would be surprised to know the group didn’t even receive the music until just a few days prior to the event, said Chief Master Sgt. Angela Burns, chief in charge of the Singing Sergeants at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C.
“One of our singers lifted the tune and set it to music for us so we could learn it, memorize it and have it ready for Monday,” she said. “The way we carried ourselves and performed our duty had a positive impact because the moment we stepped onto the stage the crowd started screaming Air Force -- they definitely had pride for service and country.”
But despite the steep learning curve for the song and charge to deliver a masterful performance with a megastar before millions of spectators, Burns said the group doesn’t falter.
“This is just what we do; we were excited and ready to represent the Air Force,” Burns said.
Singing Sergeants are familiar with large audiences and one member even delivered the National Anthem on the White House lawn for President George W. Bush, the chief said. But as a group performance, the Concert for Valor drew the largest crowd she’d seen in her 22-year Air Force career.
Ultimately, Burns said she hoped the Singing Sergeants’ participation in the event honored those who currently or have previously served.
“Our veterans have served our country and as they return it's our turn to serve them,” the chief said. “We must extend our help to them as they transition back home; they are the heroes and we owe them a great deal for their many sacrifices.”
Capt. Dave Alpar, the Air Force Band assistant director of operations, described the Singing Sergeants’ back-up of Underwood during her rendition of “Something in the Water” as an “amazing opportunity.”
“It allows us to showcase not only the talents of our bandsmen, but all Airmen as we honor veterans, inspire our service members and have a positive impact on American patriotism.”
And many Airmen expressed how meaningful it was to be invited to the free, televised and live-streaming program, the first of its kind.
“It was incredible to see so much support for veterans not only from the musicians, but really everyone there,” said Staff Sgt. Tara Hickman, a 756th Aerial Refueling Squadron member. “I never thought I’d get to see a show like this in my lifetime.”
The Concert of Valor featured an eclectic mix of musical talent and Hollywood personalities, who honored veterans, narrated vignettes about service members’ compelling stories and encouraged all to support veteran service organizations.