Voice carries her song and service

August 04, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

When Joyce Powell's 5-year-old daughter, who liked to sing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in the car, told her she was going to be a singer when she grew up, Powell didn't believe her.

When Linda Mayes Waring switched majors at Shepherd College from education to vocal performance, Powell recalled being "a little angry" because she thought her daughter should have a teaching degree in case her singing aspirations didn't work out.

Powell, who lives in Halfway, no longer thinks her daughter needs that teaching degree.

Waring, 37, is a member of the Singing Sergeants with the U.S. Air Force and will be among four members of the professional choir to sing with the U.S. Air Force Concert Band on Sunday, Aug. 7, at Hagerstown Community College's Alumni Amphitheater.


The Air Force Concert Band performance is the third in a series of "Red, White and Blue" concerts this year to pay tribute to the military and bring attention to the amphitheater that opened in 2000, said Lisa Stewart, alumni coordinator.

The 229th U.S. Army National Guard of Maryland Band performed in July and the Navy's Country Current Band played in the Kepler Theater in May because it was cold outside, Stewart said.

The concert series is sponsored by the HCC Alumni Association, the Joint Veterans Council of Washington County and AMVETS Post 10 of Hagerstown.

The concert will include operatic, patriotic and popular music performed by the 65-member symphonic wind ensemble. Three other members of the Singing Sergeants will sing music of the Three Tenors.

Waring, a soprano, will sing two solos, "Summertime" from "Porgy and Bess" and "S'Wonderful."

"She really does have a voice, a God-given voice," Powell said.

Waring has sung with the band in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va., but this is the first time the Washington County native will sing with the band in her hometown.

"I love to come home and sing. I feel more comfortable and can see my friends and family," said Waring, a master sergeant who lives in Accokeek, Md., with her husband, Clayton, and their 2-year-old daughter, Lydia.

Powell expects about 12 relatives from the Hagerstown area to attend the 2:30 p.m. concert.

At 4 years old, Waring began taking dancing lessons with Judy Corrigan at her dance studio on Locust Street. The class would sing and dance to popular songs from the 1920s and 1930s such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Am I Blue?"

That's when Waring, who sang louder then everyone else, realized she liked to sing.

She went on to sing at Williamsport Elementary School, perform at Christ Reformed Church's United Church of Christ on West Franklin Street, play with Williamsport High School's Blue Band and become a member of that school's Sophisti-Cats show choir.

As a high school sophomore, Waring took voice lessons with Linda Burgard and realized she wanted to pursue a musical career.

During graduate school at the University of Maryland, College Park, Waring thought of joining the military. She had received an undergraduate degree from Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

"It's hard to find a good full-time job in music performance," she said. The military offered a lifetime or 20-year contract with good pay and benefits.

"I love it," Waring said.

"We represent the entire Air Force to folks that come to our concerts," she said.

Waring first sang with the Air Combat Command Heritage of America Band stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. She worked hard on an audition for a spot with the Singing Sergeants in 1997 because it meant being closer to her fianc, who worked for the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., or possibly leaving the service when her enlistment was up.

She won the spot, singing Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and a Mozart aria, among other songs.

Waring has re-enlisted several times and hopes to retire with full benefits in another 10 years.

The Singing Sergeants often perform at the White House and in the home of the Air Force's chief of staff, who hosts military leaders from other countries.

The military has bands for the purposes of conducting ceremonial services, as a way to communicate or connect with diplomats overseas and to boost morale for the troops, said Master Sgt. Shani Prewitt, spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force Band.

The most memorable performance so far was in June 2004 when the Singing Sergeants sang "America the Beautiful" a cappella at President Ronald Reagan's memorial service in the Capitol rotunda, Waring said.

The group had been chosen years in advance for the honor, and the song was the only one sung during the service, she said.

"It was very touching and it was aired worldwide," Waring said.

If you go ...

WHAT: United States Air Force Concert Band

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7

WHERE: Hagerstown Community College Alumni Amphitheater, rain or shine. The campus is off Robinwood Drive.

COST: Free.

DIRECTIONS: Park beside HCC's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center (ARCC). Next to that parking lot is a path that goes up the hill to the amphitheater.

The amphitheater has 672 permanent seats and lawn seating. Bring a blanket or lawn chair for lawn seating. Food and drinks will be sold.

For more information, call 301-790-2800, ext. 346.

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