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Get to Know “Some of the Few” Marine Corps Spouses on America’s Got Talent

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Marine Corps Spouses America's Got Talent
Marine Wives: Lisa Miller, Jennie Beverly, Maricris A. Espiritu Stroud, Stephanie Nicole, Andrea Schmidt Rupp, Hannah Reed, Kristen Howard Booth, Abi Church Hodgson, Erin Whitehead, Angeline Troilo Brown, Katie Schultz, Olivia Lowe-Gilliam and Ashley Heaton.

The American Military Spouses Choir has been singing together at a number of venues including the Kennedy Center, Vice-President Biden’s home, but most recently in America’s Got Talent.

These ladies are taking the nation by storm and thanks to your support, are now competing in the “Live Semi-Finals” on Tuesday, September 3, 2013, battling it out for the Finals.

You’ll find active duty spouses from every branch of service and several Marine Corps spouses. We’ve done a little Q&A so you can get to know some of your USMC Spouses a bit better and how they’re adjusting to the limelight.  Meet fellow Marine Corps spouses: Erika Cuevas, Hannah Reed, Lisa Miller, Andrea Rupp and Katie Schultz.

Passion and Love of Music

Many of us can relate to giving up careers, opportunities and dreams to follow our Marines around the globe. I asked the singers if this was the first time they’ve been able to focus on their own goals and dreams.

Many of these ladies’ dreams were fulfilled the day they became a wife and mother. Erika, mother of four feels “my job first and foremost is being a mom and wife. I absolutely love those two roles but it has been exciting and fulfilling to have a week of focusing on being creative and participating in a television show production”.

Music and Singing America's Got Talent Lisa Miller Katie Schultz American Military Choir
Katie Schultz and Lisa Miller going over the music before rehearsal

Similarly Katie’s dream was to get married and have kids. “I was very involved in choirs and music through my church and school growing up and have always loved it. Since marrying JT and having kids, I haven’t had the opportunity to sing in a choir and I have missed it!”

Realizing this dream has been a tremendous joy for many of these ladies. Radio City Hall “was not even a possibility of a dream” says Lisa, but simply wanted to keep the hope alive that she might be able to sing in a group again, and “that maybe someone might like it enough to ask me to sing more”.

Like Lisa, Hannah had a love for performing and simply loves music, “I think it is a part of me innately, so having the opportunity to be a part of music on this scale is pretty phenomenal” she relates.

Andrea’s path was vastly different from many of the other ladies, spending nine years in a long distance relationship with her Marine so she could pursue her career in New York City. “My background is in theater and performance. I worked in NYC off-Broadway, workshops, and a national tour singing, acting, and dancing. I left my career to finally be with the love of my life and start our marriage and lives together. So, in a way, this is revisiting a dream and a chapter in my life which I thought had closed.”

Support at Home and Beyond

Erika Cuevas America's Got Talent American Military Choir
Erika Cuevas captures a moment at America’s Got Talent

The American Military Spouse Choir has been busy rehearsing in New York City, leaving their families behind at their various duty stations. The amount of support received from the Marine Corps, family, friends, and various organizations has been amazing. Their husbands have all had their hands full caring for their young children for an extended period of time.

Erika’s husband is watching their four kids ages 1, 4, 6, and 8, and is home alone with them most of the time. “He has a lot of support from our Marine family” says Erika with a “shout out to Christine Bouchard for helping out big time”.

Similarly, Katie’s husband has stepped up to watch their kids, ages 18 months, 3, and 5, saying “He always makes me feel appreciated, but especially after he’s watched the kids.”

Agreeing with the amount of support Hannah feels, “When I get stressed out about all of the details and make plans to step down, he’s the one to say “No. You’re doing this and I will make it work when you can’t”. Units in the Corps are also supportive, allowing husbands to take leave as much as possible to watch the kids.

Six Kids Hannah and Katie
Hannah and Katie’s six kids where the grandparents have invented “America’s Got Talent Camp” to keep them busy and have fun while moms are away.

Motherhood isn’t easy for many of these moms. Andrea Rupp has left her eight month old in Virginia with her husband and relatives, dealing with nursing and pumping in between and during rehearsals. Hannah is also expecting another child and is dealing with the reality of pregnancy along with a demanding schedule.

Many of these families are also relying upon grandparents to help watch their children, but no one is being tasked out more than the grandparents of Hannah and Katie’s children, who are watching a combined six kids under the age of seven. Sisters Hannah and Katie who both married Marines are busy performing in New York City while the grandparents have “turned watching the kids into a fun America’s Got Talent camp to have fun with it” says Katie.

What Being on TV is Really Like

Many think that being on TV is pretty dazzling, but the reality is that it’s a lot of hard work.  Hannah describes, “It is not quite as glamorous as I had believed it to be.  There is a lot of “hurry up and wait” just like in the military, with a lot of retakes for the non-live portions of the show.  Everyone we have met has been amazingly kind, though”.

“It is very surreal. At times, it just seems like a normal day of rehearsals (but with more make up) but occasionally there will be a camera crew. Then, you’ll have that realization of “Oh my gosh! This is for NATIONAL television!” I have a lot of someone please pinch me moments” laughs Andrea.

All can relate to the amount of hard work needed to get to this stage of America’s Got Talent. Erika describes the final product the public sees as a “creative process that has been tweaked and retweaked. We are trying to put out the best possible performance and that takes a lot of work”.

An Average Day of Filming

Makeup and Hair America's Got Talent Katie Schultz
Katie Schultz getting her hair fixed prior to our quarter final performance

These ladies are hard at work every day. Those days can be filled with “anything from waiting for hours in the holding room, going around the city for interviews and background footage, rehearsals with our coaches, getting fitted for our costumes in wardrobe, and blocking and rehearsal on stage” after receiving a late night call the night before, explains Andrea.

Similarly, Lisa describes the days preparing for the show as being very unpredictable. “I’ve learned a lot more about patience and flexibility being here”.

The filming process is typically done with “one camera and a small crew who are very personable. They ask questions, hear some answers, and then help us reword things to sound as clear and concise as possible and then we do a retake. They might do a shot which pans across all of us several times to make sure they have a great take.  Their goal is to make sure things look and sound great” explains Hannah.

She continues, “I have found all of the crews that we have worked with to be super funny…and usually British.  Who doesn’t love have questions posed to them with a British accent?”

Unexpected Opportunities

Broadway Show
Andrea Rupp and Hannah Reed at Cinderella on Broadway

Filming, living, and rehearsing in New York City are stout with opportunities. Many of these ladies have been exposed to a city full of life and talent. Hannah describes one her favorite moments, “When we were here for the quarter finals round I got to see a Broadway show.  I know that might not sound super exciting, but it was a dream come true for me”.

The experience is pretty unique in itself. “Performing on one of the most famous stages in the world and being broadcast live is pretty spectacular. Also, being able to give military spouses, men and women, a voice has been indescribable” says Andrea.

Lisa agrees, “I am just trying to remember to be present and aware in the moments so I can remember it someday.”

Vote, Vote, Vote

Please join me in tuning into NBC’s America’s Got Talent on September 3rd to view their next live performance. Pick up the phone and let’s do our part to support these incredible ladies in their dreams and get them to the finals!

Shopping Saks by military spouses on America's Got Talent

Lisa Miller, Katie Schultz, Andrea Rupp take a trip to Saks, enjoying some free time for a shopping trip.
Erika Cuevas Kristen Booth shopping America's Got Talent Military Choir Finals Semi
Erika Cuevas and Kristen Booth on a our shopping trip during some free time.
Kristen Booth face timing with her family America's Got Talent American Military Choir
Kristen Booth face timing with her family

 

The whole American Military Spouse Choir holding a sign that Erika's children's school made.
The whole American Military Spouse Choir holding a sign that Erika’s children’s school made.

 

 

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