DEC 9, 2011
By Kimberly Covey
USAG Red Cloud DFMWRMarketing
– It all started witha can of grape soda and a love forsinging.Rachel Heideman’s recent boost tocelebrity status in Area I came whenshe placed first in the OperationRising Star contest held here duringthe Labor Day Festival Sept. 2.Operation Rising Star is a military- wide singing contest modeled afterthe popular TV show “AmericanIdol,” where contestants sing in frontof an audience. Both judges and theaudience determine whether or notthe contestant advances to the nextround.Following her winning effort here,a video of Heideman’s performance was forwarded to a panel of judges atthe Family and Morale, Welfare andRecreation Center Headquarters atFort Sam Houston, Texas, where shecompeted against other winners.On Oct. 13 she received a call fromthe Area I Entertainment and SpecialEvents Division stating that she waschosen to complete in the finals, which will be held at Fort Sam Houstonbeginning Dec. 11. Twelve contestantsfrom throughout the Army are slottedto compete for top honors and an allexpenses paid, three-day professionalrecording studio trip to Hollywood,California.“After I got off the phone withthe Entertainment and SpecialEvents coordinator, I just screamed,”Heideman said. “I could hardly breathe and my friends told me that Ineeded to calm down or I was going tohave a heart attack.”Heideman hails from Corning,Kansas, a town of about 100 people.She says she’s been singing ever sinceshe was a toddler, grasping every opportunity she could to perform forothers.“I’ve been singing for as long as Ican remember,” she said. “My aunt hadto frequently quiet me down at thedon’t recognize my tunes, but it’s what I like. I like antifolk artists suchas Ingrid Michaelson, Regine Spektorand Colbie Callait, but I especially lovefemale vocalists. They’re my idols.”Like a majority of people, Heidemanstruggles with stage fright, but shecontinues to overcome it throughsheer determination.“I have terrible stage fright,” sheadmitted. “I have to kick myself to geton stage, but my motto is ‘This tooshall pass.’ I tell myself that I have toget over it. Do it and be done.”Heideman became a celebrity in Area I almost overnight, but shestill remains humbled by the entireexperience.“After participating in OperationRising Star I became a huge supporterof unit participation,” she said. “I would not be where I am if it wasn’t formy unit’s support. They’re the reason why I won.“I have to give the credit tosomebody else because I’m just doing what I love.”Because of her talent, Heidemanis to be assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division band as a vocalist.“The fact that I can sing and stillstay in the Army is an absolute dreamcome true,” she said.The Operation Rising Star grandfinale will begin on Dec. 11. Voters willbe able to cast votes online at www.oprisingstar.com. Fifty percent of votestallied will be from online voters.
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She’s off to the finals!
Area I’s Heideman heads to Rising Star song face-off
dinner table when I was three yearsold because I sang too much.“When I was in 2nd grade, I hadto sing ‘Oh, Mr. Sun’ for a classperformance. It was the only person in the class who coulddo it on key, so my teachergave me a grape soda.That was the day I knewI wanted to be a singer.” After graduatingfrom high school,she attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas,to study vocalperformanceand opera. Shethen joinedthe Army,hoping tobecome a vocalist,but thatmilitary occupationalspecialty was not yetavailable.“Severalmonths laterI learnedthat they finally opened [the MOS], but by thenit was too late,” she said.Heideman continued her path asa Sentinel radar systems operator,hoping that an opportunity wouldpresent itself one day to change herMOS. After five months of AdvancedIndividual Training at Fort Sill, Okla.,she was reassigned to Camp Casey with Company E, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air and Missile Defense Regiment.“I love being a Soldier and beingin the Army,” she said. “I was evena Better Opportunities for SingleSoldiers representative for my unit fora long time.”Heideman, now a private first class,has been in the Army for a year andhalf. Prior to competing in OperationRising State, she competed in the Warrior Country Talent Search witha friend and placed third. Afterwards,she decided to sign up for OperationRising Star.“I did the firstround because Ithought it wouldbe fun,” she said.“I had so many people theresupportingme. My entireunit filled theGateway Cluband that keptme going.“I placedthird duringthe secondround and I’lladmit,” shesaid, “I washesitant oncontinuingbut I knewI had todo it forthe peoplesupportingme. Afterperformingduring thefinal roundat the LaborDay Festival, Iprepared myself to take the third-placecheck. The other two competitors were absolutely amazing singers.“When the third place checkpassed, I thought, ‘Okay, I can deal with second,’ but then the second-place check passed, I couldn’t believeit.”Heideman received a $500 checkas well as a chance to compete fora spot in the Operation Rising Stargrand finale. Her unit also won the$300 Spirit Award for being the mostsupportive unit.For her performance, Heidemanchose “Broken” by Lindsey Haunt,“Never Alone” by Lady Antebellumand “Are You Happy Now?” by Michelle Branch.“I don’t want to sing popular songsthat everybody knows,” she said. It putsme at a disadvantage because people
The Pentagon Channel willtelevise Operation Rising Star, which will see 12 competitorsfrom around the globe vie toemerge the winner in the Army’spremier vocal competition.Final air dates are: Dec. 11, 13,15, and 17. All shows will air at 8 p.m.in the Korea Standard, EasternStandard, and Central Europeantime zones.
Rising Star to be televised
Pfc. Rachel Heideman, right, took first place and a $500 prize in the Operation Rising Star singing competition at Camp Casey Sept. 2. She’ll vie for top honors next week inthe Army’s premier vocal competition. At left is Lt. Col. Steven Finley, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Casey. — U.S. Army photos by Pfc. Lee Jae Gwang