BAND AIDS

Vince Gill and Amy Grant hit the airwaves for U.S. troops

Even before the tragedies of Sept. 11 turned the country's focus to our military troops overseas, Vince Gill and his wife, Amy Grant, were keenly aware of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans -- and were eager to show their support through the gift of music.

With that in mind, Vince and Amy headlined the U.S. Air Force Reserve's annual "Holiday Notes From Home" radio program. The hour-long broadcast from Nashville's Grand Ole Opry House has, for the past six years, spotlighted the talented Band of the United States Air Force Reserve.

"There's nothing that feels better than an orchestra of great players," admits Vince. "We've felt an immense amount of pride in being able to serve. That's what everybody is doing in their own way."

Amy echoed her husband's sentiments. "There's not a person alive that wouldn't jump at the chance to try and encourage the troops," she declares. "I feel like all of our feelings toward family [and] toward country, are so intensified. Everybody's really so thankful, everybody really understands the word sacrifice, everybody really understands the meaning of the gift of love."

Although the musical program is available to every armed forces transmitter worldwide, this past season the show was also provided to more than 6,000 commercial radio stations near military bases in the U.S. It's heard by tens of thousands of military personnel and their families.

Dave Ballengee, band operations officer and show producer, reveals that Vince and Amy's gift to our troops couldn't have come at a more poignant time. "I'll bet when the folks heard them on the little speaker of their radio, say aboard ship in the Mediterranean, or even on the shore way out in the middle of nowhere, they felt a warm and rich feeling in their hearts," notes Ballengee. "And I bet they'll remember Amy and Vince for taking the time to show they care."

Country's past performers on the radio show include Faith Hill, Wynonna, Crystal Gayle, Gary Morris and Lari White.

The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 60 members are full-time professional musicians and singers supporting the Air Force and Air Force Reserve recruiting efforts and community relations through 500 performances annually. And the band is always in search of gifted musicians, especially rhythm players. Musicians seeking opportunities as players should contact a placement counselor at (478) 327-0555 or Ballengee at: David.Ballengee@afrc.af.mil.

"I know there are lots of players out there looking for a gig," notes Ballengee. "And who wouldn't welcome the chance to say they've 'picked' with Vince Gill or sang on the same stage with Faith Hill?"

-- Larry Holden

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