While many of its 312 performances last year featured patriotic numbers, fanfares and marches, the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band has a diverse repertoire and multitalented performers.
An upcoming program, The Voices of the Signal Corps, will highlight six musicians who also are accomplished singers. It will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at First Baptist Church of Augusta. Admission is free.
“This really plays to the strengths of the different singers,” said Staff Sgt. Phil Bleinberger, of Evans, a trombonist who loves to sing jazz music and play anything with a rhythm.
Bleinberger will be featured on Frank Sinatra’s My Way, as well as Michael Bublé's Feeling Good and Sammy Davis Jr.’s For Once In My Life.
The 90-minute program will include a variety of songs and styles, from Lady Gaga to opera to patriotic standards. One of the six vocalists, Spc. Jamison Walker, is a classically trained opera singer.
Musicians have a long history with the military, but the use of vocalists is newer and becoming increasingly common, said Staff Sgt. Leah Sloss, the band’s public affairs officer.
“The Army has slowly been adding them, so we are embracing what the Army is doing,” she said.
Being in the Army offers a unique opportunity for musicians and singers, said Bleinberger.
“It’s great for people like us. It gives us the opportunity to serve our country. We play meaningful music gigs such as the Memorial Day event at the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home,” he said.
Not only does the band have a concert band component and vocalists, there are smaller ensembles within the group.
“We have a rock band, brass band, brass quintet, acoustic band. These are all professional musicians,” said Sloss.
The Signal Corps Band often is included at special events in the community such as Thunder Over Augusta, but there are limited opportunities featuring just the concert band. Each December, the band presents a holiday concert at First Baptist Church of Augusta.
“This is something new,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Smith, who is in charge of the band’s operations. “We are trying to get outside into the community more.”
A member of the community paid for the rental of the venue to provide the opportunity, he said.