The U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants kicked off their first solo tour in approximately 20 years Feb. 22 to Feb. 26 in central Florida.
“Historically, we’ve been primarily part of the concert band touring mission,” said Capt. Daniel Boothe, U.S. Air Force Band assistant director of operations and associate conductor. “With this tour, the commander of the band wanted to give us the opportunity to showcase our unique abilities.”
The first appearance the ensemble was at Fox 35 Studios to give an overview of the tour and patriotic music from the program to audiences in Florida.
During multiple performances of the community outreach tour, the ensemble catapulted the audience back to a time to the 1940s and ‘50s when the Andrews Sisters were “the dish” and soda shops jukeboxes blared a variety of hits.
“For a tour, it takes about a year of preparation,” said Tech. Sgt. Julia Cuevas, U.S. Air Force Band Singing Sergeants ensemble alto vocalist. “There are a lot of moving parts including logistics of people and equipment, marketing, advertising and finding appropriate venues to fit our mission.”
Cuevas added that many venues are booked almost a year in advance like the Eisenhower Regional Recreational Center, one of the first venues the ensemble performed at.
“They didn’t miss a beat,” said Bill Oster, ERRC audience member, with tears of joy in his eyes. “They did a really fantastic job. It brings back memories listening to those songs.”
After their performance at the ERRC, the Singing Sergeants met with local veterans from an honor flight and received a short tour of the facility, which houses numerous displays of historical military memorabilia donated by local veterans.
“It's important to us to reach out and honor the veterans who served before us,” Cuevas said. “It was an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. They were so appreciative of our performance and we were able to hear stories of different eras.”
Audience members at Universal CityWalk in Orlando were able to attend a panel with members of the Singing Sergeants to have face-to-face contact with them and learn about the ensemble’s mission.
In addition to famous pop songs, the ensemble performed a series of classical choral literature for spectators at North Lake Presbyterian Church in Lady Lake and Lee Chapel Hall at Stetson University in Deland. They also performed a patriotic concert with Gulf Coast Orchestra in Cape Coral to close the tour.
“It wasn’t just about the music,” Boothe said. “But it was about the honor of serving in the military, the impact our performances have on audiences and how we can inspire patriotism for future generations.”