Holloman Airman goes for the blue

Airman Van Buskirk

Airman Van Buskirk

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Senior Airman Kari Van Buskirk has just returned from a whirlwind week at the 2007 Worldwide Talent Competition for Tops in Blue held at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

"It was an experience of a lifetime," said Airman Van Buskirk. "It was an honor to make it that far."

Airman Van Buskirk, a food production manager at the base dining facility by day, is a singer. She was among 62 contestants out of about 100 submissions to take part in the competition, according to Ms. Terri Smith, Operations Assistant for Air Force Entertainment, Lackland Air Force Base. Ms. Smith said 33 of the competitors were selected to perform on the 2007 Tops in Blue tour, themed "Perform Your Duty."

"It's been my dream since I saw them for the first time in 2002," Airman Van Buskirk said. "I've always wanted to do it, but having a child and being married and deployment sets it back as far as priorities. But this year it's the 60th anniversary of the Air Force and I wanted to be a part of that in 2007. I love to sing. The stage is like my home. It's something I feel very comfortable doing."

Applicants selected to compete in the worldwide competition are placed in one of six categories: male vocalist, female vocalist, instrumentalist, dance, musical variety and non-musical variety. At the competition, three separate panels of six members each judge the applicants.

"I sing different types (of music)," Airman Van Buskirk said. For the vocal audition, she said she had to perform the Disney song "Part of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid" soundtrack.

"They have a number of auditions they have to go through," said Mr. Bob Stork, Operations Manager for Air Force Entertainment, Lackland Air Force Base. "Everyone has to go through a vocal audition, instrumental audition, dance audition, an audition for specialty talents and a live audition in front of an audience that is also judged. And there are personal interviews involved, and general appearance and demeanor are observed throughout to make sure they present a good Air Force image."

Airman Van Buskirk said the competition was a very stressful environment with long hours and a lot of pressure.

"You go through a process--interviews, auditions, long hours, long hours," she said, laughing. "Then they let you know. They give you about 10 days after you're there."
Although Airman Van Buskirk was not selected for the tour this time, she said she will be sending her audition tape again next year.

"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity I don't want to pass by for lack of time," she said. "And don't give up your dream. It was an honor and experience going that far."
(Some information supplied at www.topsinblue.com.)