Salutes & Awards

February 28, 2014

Thunderbolt picks up dream, heads to Tops in Blue

Airman 1st Class Jeremiah Barnes, 56th Communications Squadron network operations journeyman, checks a laptop Feb. 21 at Luke Air Force Base. Barnes was selected to perform in Tops in Blue, the Air Force’s premiere expeditionary entertainment unit.

Airman 1st Class Jeremiah Barnes, 56th Communications Squadron network operations, is the latest Thunderbolt to be selected to perform in Tops in Blue, the Air Force’s premiere expeditionary entertainment unit.

Tops in Blue selects its members from the Air Force rank and file stationed all over the world. Competitors audition and those chosen are considered to be the best-of-the-best. Those recently selected will serve for the 2014 to 2015 season.

The selection panel receives video submissions from around the world. They pick those who will be brought to San Antonio for an on-camera audition from which the first and second-place winners in six categories are selected. But sometimes, winners are selected from their video submissions, and Barnes happened to be one of those individuals.

“Music in general is my passion,” Barnes said. “I’m excited to spend some of my time in the Air Force doing what I love to do.”

Barnes was singing long before he joined the Air Force. He was in a band full time as a lead singer and they toured all over the U.S. for about four years. He was also a songwriter for Universal Music Publishing, the No.1 global leader in music publishing, giving him a pretty good musical background.

“Joining the Air Force was a challenge for me,” he said. “They say songwriters draw from life experiences, and that’s what inspires you to write. I was ready for new challenges, so I can have new aspects in which to prove myself.”

Before heading out for the world tour, Barns and his team will train for an intense 60-day training period at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The performers must master the requirements of the show. Also, they are their own road crew. Under the guidance of five technical personnel, the team is responsible for setting up over 60,000 pounds of staging, lighting, audio, video and special effects equipment required for each performance. It’s a very demanding job, both physically and mentally, but Barnes is looking forward to it.

“I’m going to be performing at a more rigorous pace than I ever have,” he said. “It will be intense and very demanding, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Only a few in the Air Force will get to experience Tops in Blue as a performer. It’s an experience that Barnes says he’ll never forget and will be a moment in time he’ll cherish forever.

“I’m honored to have this very special opportunity,” Barnes said. “Tops in Blue is a morale booster. Their goal is to make people laugh, get Airmen out of their day-to-day grind, and allow them to relax and have fun. That’s what music does.”




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