The U.S. Army Field Band's 2017 Spring Tour continues through the end of April as the Concert Band & Soldiers' Chorus venture through Texas and New Mexico and the Jazz Ambassadors wind their way from Texas through the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee into Virginia. If you can't attend a concert in person, consider streaming one of our inspiring performances on Persicope:
Honoring our Veterans
Spring Tour 2017 is underway, and the Concert Band, Soldiers' Chorus, and Jazz Ambassadors of The U.S. Army Field Band are telling the Army story across the South and Southwest. Turnout has been high, audiences have been enthusiastic, and getting to know our Veterans and civilians continues to be a highlight of our mission.
"Hopefully our music expresses the gratitude we all feel for their service."
- SFC Jennifer Everhart
One new facet of the Army Field Band's tours is the renewed commitment to Veterans Homes and hospitals. On several days this tour, as the Concert Band & Soldiers' Chorus drive to the next venue for that evening's concert, the band's chamber ensembles are visiting Veterans Homes to perform for residents.
Sergeant First Class Jennifer Everhart is largely responsible for coordinating this new effort. "Performing for and honoring our nation's Veterans is some of the most important work we do," said Everhart. "Too often, men and women who have given years of their lives in service of our nation are forgotten, especially as they near the end of life. We're just extending help where it's needed."
Already, members of the Army Field Band have had unforgettable interactions with Veterans of Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. One such interaction came on April 4, when the Army Field Band Clarinet Quartet performed at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock, Arkansas.
"Space was a bit limited, so we just played in a hallway," recounted SFC Everhart. "The staff brought 25 vets down from the upper floors, mostly in wheelchairs. We played a 45-minute concert for them, and afterwards got a chance to talk with them. One gentleman I spoke to is a World War II Veteran named Sanford Tollette."
Mr. Tollette served in the U.S. Navy, and although he desperately wanted to fight, in the early years of the war African-Americans were limited to support roles. During his service, he won a position with a Navy chorus, with whom he toured the Eastern Seaboard, giving performances as The U.S. Army Field Band does now. He went on to be an instructor with the U.S. Naval Reserve. Tollette's grandfather of the same name was a founder of the town of Tollette, Arkansas, where his family continues to live.
In other Veterans Homes performances this tour, members of the Army Field Band have met Veterans who fought in Normandy, Italy, and the Pacific, and as always, continue to meet hundreds of veterans and military spouses at every single evening concert by the Concert Band, Soldiers' Chorus, and Jazz Ambassadors. "It's been a pleasure to meet so many Veterans," said Everhart, "and listen as they recall their time in the military. Hopefully our music expresses the gratitude we all feel for their service."