Army

August 23, 2012

11th ACR Soldier Performs Double Duty

Tags:
By Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The cast of the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show performs at Fort Irwin Aug. 15.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – When Staff Sgt. Kent Powell Smith III auditioned last summer to join this year’s U.S. Army Soldier Show cast as a performer, the show chose him to serve as a technician instead.

But when push came to shove, fate ultimately opted to put him out on the stage.

The sergeant, who embraced rapping, dancing and performing for audiences at the age of 7, and has stuck with his passion for it ever since, had served eight years in the Army and never had the slightest idea it boasted a travelling song-and-dance show until it stopped off last year at Fort Irwin, Calif., where he is stationed with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Staff Sgt. Kent Powell Smith III, a technician with the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show whom the show’s production stage manager chose last month to fill in onstage for an injured dancer, helps assemble the production’s elaborate setting Aug. 9, the day before a show at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

He almost decided not to even see the production – an annually changing cast packed with newly tapped Army talent that he found was right up his alley.

“I wasn’t planning on going, and then, when I actually saw it and saw what they do, I was like, ‘Wow, how come I didn’t know about this earlier,’ ” said Smith, a communications specialist and Queens, N.Y., native who applied for this year’s show as soon as he had the chance.

“If I’d have known about this when I first joined the military, I would have done it a long time ago.”

On his application, Smith elected to join the cast but, because of his communications background, chose to be a technician if he didn’t make the cut.

Staff Sgt. Kent Powell Smith III, a technician with the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show whom the show’s production stage manager chose last month to fill in onstage for an injured dancer, sings and dances Aug. 10 for Soldiers and their families at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., during a collaborative performance that blended a rendition of rapper Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” and a cast original song called “Army Strong and I Know It.”

So when the group of entertainers hit the road in early May for a four-month-long tour to installations across the U.S. and Japan, Smith donned a black T-shirt designating him a staff member.

He leads the assembly of the production’s elaborate stage setup, which now includes a 13-foot-long, 28-foot-high LED video wall; operates sound equipment and a high-tech mixing board; fixes microphones and adjusts frequencies.

But an injury last month to one of the show’s dancers changed up the pace a bit for Smith, when the production’s stage manager decided to put Smith’s experience as a performer to use.

He knew Smith had the dance moves memorized. So, with two hours’ notice, he told him to pay close attention to the group’s pre-performance rehearsal. He would go on stage that night when the cast played for an audience at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

“Everyone had a long time to train for this,” Smith said. “Me, I had only a couple of hours.”

The short notice had him nervous, and a desire to perform well piled on the pressure.

“You just want to show that they didn’t make a bad choice by putting you in the show, so you want to do your best,” he said. “You want to give it your best and give it your all.”

After five shows as a dancer and vocalist in a collaborative performance blending a rendition of rapper Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” and an original cast song called “Army Strong and I Know it,” Smith’s character was alive and thriving when the show stopped off at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 10.

“For any musician, you have that bug; it’s like that performer bug,” Smith said. “When I was teching, it was bothering me that I wasn’t out on stage. Now that I’m out on stage, it’s like, ‘OK, full circle, it’s good to go.’ I’m happy now.”

Smith is one of two technicians with the show chosen to perform. A broken foot one of the dancers suffered last month during an onstage backflip put Staff Sgt. Charles Walker Jr. in a rap and breakdance performance called “The Show Goes On.”

Walker, a generator mechanic stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., grew up emulating the dance routines of his idols, like pop star Michael Jackson. Once, he even danced onstage with rapper MC Hammer in 1992.

So when the time came to step up to the plate, he delivered, despite fears that the audience wouldn’t respond well to him.

“I just put all that to the side and danced with my heart,” said the Sicklerville, N.J., native. “It was all love out there.”

Smith and Walker both agree that technician and entertainer are tough jobs in their own respects, requiring almost 20 hours of work in one day on some occasions. But to wear both hats at the same time, they said, is nothing short of hectic.

“Once I get off stage, I have to jump right back into tech work,” Smith said. “I’m out for three scenes not being back stage. It’s double duty.”

Jumping from hours of stage setup to rehearsal and from the spotlight to tech labor, it’s easy to see that the two represent hard work, but, according to Smith, they stand for something else – something profound.

“For me, being on stage, it’s just saying that anything can happen,” he said. “If you stay passionate, and you stay with it, anything can happen.

“I’ve been rapping since I was seven years old, and now, 20 years down the road, I’m doing this. I never thought, ever, that I would be here.”

But alas he’s there, standing on stage with fellow Soldiers whose talents will write a legacy in Soldier Show history. And he has no problem describing how it makes him feel.

“You’re doing a job that you like to do, but doing what you do on the outside, which is music, and then all of a sudden you have the opportunity to do music and your job,” he said. “It’s breathtaking.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
front_page

Fort Irwin Soldiers honored at Armed Forces Day event

Children surround Spc. Matthew Bragg – of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment – for a photo opportunity at the 2015 Torrance Armed Forces Day Parade, May 16.   Leadership, Soldiers and civilian employe...
 
 

News Briefs June 2015

Now through Aug. 5 SAC Summer Camp. 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday – Friday. 1322 Pork Chop Hill. The Fort Irwin School Age Center Summer Camp Program accommodates children from kindergarten to fifth grade. SAC encourages physical, emotional, and social development through the following service areas: sports, fitness, and health options; life skills, citizenship...
 
 
Sgt. Erik Thurman

Memorial Day ceremonies supported by 11th ACR

Sgt. Erik Thurman Major Bradley Lang addresses an audience during a Memorial Day ceremony at Desert View Memorial Park in Victorville, Calif., May 25. The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment had the honor of participating in three Me...
 

 

Garrison command team will miss installation, great people

For the command team of Col. Jon Braga and Command Sgt. Maj. Carlos Esmurria, leaving Fort Irwin in July will be a bittersweet moment. The two have been at the helm of Fort Irwin United States Army Garrison, the organization that manages the cantonment area of this military installation, since mid-2013. It will be 24...
 
 
Leslie Ozawa

NTC bids farewell to post CSM, hails interim

Leslie Ozawa National Training Center and Fort Irwin Commander Brig. Gen. Joseph Martin congratulates Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen Travers. Travers received a Legion of Merit award for his service to the NTC as post command sergea...
 
 
IMG_5348

11th ACR Horse Detachment demonstrates tradition

Sgt. 1st Class Roman Hacker leads fellow Horse Handlers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Horse Detachment on a beach ride at Salinas River State Beach in Marina, Calif., May 8.   Friends of the Fort Ord Warhorse welcom...
 




One Comment


  1. […] High Desert Warrior » Army 2 mins ago by in Fort Irwin. You can follow any responses to this entry through the | RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>