13 Airmen take Worldwide Talent Search honors

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The best 13 Airmen were selected from 77 bluesuiters gathered for the Air Force Worldwide Talent Search Jan. 11 through 19 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

The Air Force's "top talent" were chosen after 10 days of auditions, rehearsals and interviews, which culminated in three nights of competition, as the best performer took home the "Roger" award for first place, and the second place winner received the "Wilco" award.

The winners are:
-- Best Female Vocalist went to Staff Sgt. Aisha Smith from MacDill AFB, Fla., and Staff Sgt. Naomi Keen from Lackland AFB took second place.
-- Male Vocalist went to Staff Sgt. Rick Rosales from Keesler AFB, Miss., and Staff Sgt. Wendell Boone from Andrews AFB, Md., took second place. 
-- Specialty went to Staff Sgt. James Warren from Eielson AFB, Alaska, and Airman 1st Class Jamie Hull from Fairchild AFB, Wash., took second place. 
-- Instrumental went to Airman 1st Class Shane Jones from Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and 2nd Lt. Mara Title from Los Angeles AFB, Calif., took second place. 
-- Dance went to Airman 1st Class Malik Thorne from Dover AFB, Del., and Airman 1st Class Emanuel Simmons II from Malmstrom AFB, Mont., took second place. 
-- Vocal Self-Accompanied went to Airman 1st Class Malcolm Hudson from Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and Senior Airman Marc Hightower from Cannon AFB, N.M., took second place. 
-- Technician went to Airman 1st Class Aaron Elliot from Hurlburt Field, Fla.
-- Best of Show went to Staff Sgt. Rick Rosales from Keesler AFB.

In addition to competing for Worldwide Talent Search honors, the Airmen also auditioned for spots on the Tops In Blue roster.

"Even though the competition was keen, it was great to see the camaraderie and sense of family that formed among the participants," said Terri Smith, the Air Force Entertainment's operations coordinator at the Air Force Services Agency in San Antonio. "The Air Force has always been loaded with talent, but the number of entertainers and the quality of the performances this year were especially high."

Ms. Smith said the revamped Tops In Blue Web site, which now makes it easier for Airmen to submit their audition videos, was one of the keys to the infusion of new talent.

"We had more participants at this year's event than we've had in a long time and a lot of that was due to the Web site," she said. "Since launching it late last year, we've seen a big increase in interest and applications."

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