Former Tops in Blue vocalist finishes tour, returns to Warren

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mike Tryon
  • 90th Missile Wing Pubilc Affairs
Being selected as one of the 35 members to perform with Tops in Blue is a privilege one Airman assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron recently had.

Jarrod Burton, 90th CES water-fuels maintenance technician, finished his 14-month tour with the Air Force's premier performance team and has returned to his duties here.

"I'm glad to be back," Burton said. "But at the same time, I'm sad to leave that group of people, because we became a family.

The audition process turned out to be more than Burton said he thought it would be.

"At first, I didn't even want to audition," Burton said. "The reason I ended up auditioning was all thanks to a friend who is no longer with us."

Alyssa Quintanilla is who Burton said he attributes for him auditioning and being selected as a Tops in Blue member. Quintanilla and Burton met for the first time in the recruiter's office.

According to Burton, in 2010, Quintanilla called him suggesting he audition; however, at that time, Burton was not interested. She called again in 2011 with the same plea, and this time would not take "no" for an answer.

Quintanilla called the last day audition tapes were due to be sent in and wouldn't hang up until he agreed to record a video and send it in, Burton said.

"I was notified of my selection while I was on leave in Houston with my family," Burton said. "After I was given the news, I called Quintanilla's parents to let them know the news. That is when I found out Quintanilla had passed away only a few days prior.

"I'm so thankful someone who I had barely known had that much faith in me, when I didn't even have faith in myself," Burton added.

Burton said one of his favorite places he visited while on tour was Lajas Field, Portugal, because of the hospitality shown, the amazing food and the hotel he stayed in was right on the beach.

The show list for Tops in Blue was called "Rhythm Nation," which spanned music from the early 1900s to 2011.

"My favorite set was the '20s," Burton said. "My favorite song out of that set was a duet I sang with Airman 1st Class Aimee Grills, 354th Civil Engineer Squadron Programs Flight specialist, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, titled 'That old black magic.'"

Another crowd favorite set of the show was the '50s, Burton said.

During the '50s set, the male vocalists sang songs from Little Richard, Elvis, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis while the female vocalists, dressed in poodle skirts and other '50s clothing, acted as fans.

Now that he is back, Burton said he cannot wait to audition again.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword," Burton added. "Having auditioned once before, I know what mindset I need to have. At the same time, there's just that much more that would be expected of me because I've been there already. However, I do plan on auditioning for the 2013 team, if my leadership allows it."

Burton said his time with Tops in Blue also has prepared him to pursue musical plans after his time in the military.

"It was by far the hardest thing I've done in my lifetime, but I suggest to those wanting to be a part of the music industry to audition," Burton said. "The experience gained from it gives you an honest, eye-level view of the business."

While he's still assigned here, Burton said he is trying to work with the local piano bar to see if he can perform there.