Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Year That Changed My Life

            Ten years ago I embarked on a year and opportunity that changed my life forever. Back in 2004 I earned the opportunity to become a member of Tops in Blue, (TIB). As a member of Tops in Blue we traveled all around the world putting on a show and performing for our troops overseas and nationwide. But Tops in Blue is so much more than that. One of the lessons that priors, former members of Tops in Blue, try to engrain in new members is to not go into TIB looking for what you can get out of it. They tell you to go into the program prepared to give it your all, and you’ll come out of it with so much more. I knew this would prove to be true because I had already gained so much just making it to TIB.

            There are some people that try for years and years to make it to TIB. Some make it and some never do. I was fortunate to have made it my first time out. The first step I had to take to make it to TIB was to compete in the base talent show. This was one of the first times that I had performed in front of a crowd all by myself. Needless to say, I was nervous, and you could hear it when I played. But that was step one of the performer in me emerging from out of my shell. Next up after that was sending in my application and a video of me playing a couple songs in hopes of being selected to compete in the Worldwide Talent Competition that determines the members of that years tour. Worldwide is a whole different beast of a talent competition. Before you got there you had to select what song you were going to perform in front of a theatre full of people. At worldwide, in addition to preparing for your performance, you had to audition in all the other categories there. So while I was there to audition for the band, playing my sax, I also had to do a vocal, dance, and variety audition. Basically auditioning for TIB you had to leave all of your caring what other people think at the door, or you just weren’t going to make it. I made it through all the auditions and my performance, each one bringing something out of me I didn’t realize I had, and a few weeks later I learned that I made it to the team!

            As a member of the 2004 TIB team, in addition to getting to travel around the world playing music, I received so many valuable lessons, skills, relationships, and more thanks to this tour. I always say that TIB was at the same time one of the hardest and most rewarding things that I’ve ever done in my life. Even if I personally didn’t get anything from TIB, which I did, the effect that I saw it have on our troops, especially the ones in the dessert, made everything that we did and went through more than worth it. But like I said I took so much away from my year with Tops in Blue. I have friendships from this tour that will last a lifetime. I learned how to be a performer, how to produce a show, how to lead a group, how to take charge of the stage, how to work hard and to continue to push through until the task at hand is complete, and much more. So there it is. 2004 is the year that changed my life, and Tops in Blue is the program that was used to do it! 

Won't you be my friend:
YouTube: Justin Smith-Williams