Nellis' singer prepares to shine

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Charles
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Being recognized as a singer isn't easy; it takes charisma, dedication and a voice that would make a polar bear melt. 

Every year, the Air Force looks for star vocalists who fit these special requirements, and every year they find people who exceed them. 

For the 2009 Tops in Blue team, Nellis was given the opportunity to put one of these stars on display when Tech. Sgt. Octavious Hill, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration craftsman from the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, was among 15 vocalist selected for the team. 

Joining Tops in Blue was a long process. The process from application to acceptance can take up to three months. 

"It was quite a process," Sergeant Hill said. "First I had to send in an audition tape. Then out of 300 Airmen, I was selected to compete at the Air Force Worldwide Talent Contest in Lackland AFB Texas. At the contest I competed against 80 people for the available slots to be on the team. I was one of 31 people to actually be selected."
Sergeant Hill will be granted a one year permissive temporary duty assignment to be part of the team. However, he and the other selectees will not immediately leave for their season tour. 

First, they will first have to meet at Lackland for a staging class. The staging class is required to help all selectees' transition into the tour successfully. There, the selectees will learn the songs and dance routines for each show. They will also learn how to build and tear down the stage. The staging process lasts six weeks. It will start March 21 and last until the tour starts in May. 

One of the most interesting facts of the Tops in Blue team is its ability to perform shows at a break neck pace. The first Tops in Blue tour, which began the tradition in 1953, included 230 shows in 235 days. 

In keeping with tradition, the new touring squad will begin a 10 month tour in May, which includes more than 120 shows in more than 20 countries. 

"Being selected into Tops in Blue and doing so many shows means that I will have the opportunity to give back what was given to me when I was deployed," said Sergeant Hill. "I remember seeing Tops in Blue perform in Iraq. The variety of songs seemed to be hand-picked by all of us in the audience because there was something for everyone. I remember everyone throughout the base being a little easier to work with after that performance. That moment of escape from our circumstances made all the difference." 

For tour schedules, details on how to join next year's team and other information, contact Air Force Entertainment at (210) 652-6566 or visit www.topsinblue.com.