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Finalists to compete for Air Force Entertainer of the Year

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) -- Senior Airman Marcus Ward, Master Sgt. Robert Carter and Christy Broughton are competing for the title of 2017 Air Force Entertainer of the Year, and you can choose the winner by voting online Nov. 13-30, 2017.

Ward of the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, won Group 1, which included four non-vocal categories: instrumental, musical variety, nonmusical variety and dance. Ward won the dance category with a routine created to “Walking with the Elephants” performed by Shakka featuring Frisco Rollin’.

Carter of the 531st Intelligence Squadron at JBSA-Lackland won Group 2, which included vocal solo, vocal solo self-accompanied and rap categories. He won the vocal self-accompanied category with “Message in the Bottle” by the Police.

Broughton, daughter of Senior Master Sgt. William Broughton of the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, won Group 3, which included preteen, teen, spouse and Air Force family categories. She won the teen category singing “Mary Did You Know” by Pentatonix.

“The Air Force Entertainer of the Year competition has truly exceeded our expectations and it is a testament to the great talent that we have in our Air Force,” said Nabu Fullman, Air Force Entertainment performance director. “This is a fun way for Airmen and their families to express their God-given talents, and to put a little extra cash in their pockets for the holidays. Our Air Force is the best in the world and the caliber of talent shows both the creativity and professionalism of all of the contestants.”

Contestants submitted videos of their performances in this all-online contest sponsored by the Air Force Services Activity. A panel of three entertainment industry professionals judged each act on technical excellence and showmanship as well as their treatment and interpretation of the material. Judges were Staff Sgt. Henry Roberson, Air Force Band of the West member; Sarah Cantrell, vocal coach and vocalist with a bachelor’s degree in music; and Alisa Claridy, actor, vocal coach and vocalist.

The contest was open to active-duty Airmen, Air National Guardsmen, Air Force Reserve members and members of their immediate families.

“Our judges have made their decisions, now it’s up to the public to make the final decision to select the 2017 Air Force Entertainer of the Year,” Fullman said.

Ward said he has been working on his craft his entire life.

“It is great to get an opportunity to show the Air Force community and the world that even though I'm serving my country, I still have time to do the things that I love and I still have the time to perfect my art,” Ward said.

Broughton, 15, has been singing since she was about 3 years old and often performs at events at Ellsworth AFB.

“We are so excited that Christy has been chosen as one of the top three for Entertainer of the Year,” said Lakeesha Broughton, Christy’s mother.

Carter said he is honored to be a finalist and is looking forward to sharing his gift via the online competition.

Category winners are:

Group 1, instrumental, first place, 2nd Lt. Joshua Tarrant of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, and second place, Tech. Sgt. Rafael Recinos-Escobar of the 38th IS at Beale AFB, California; musical variety, first place, Airman 1st Class Felecia Clemons and Senior Airman Joanna Kingsbury of the 36th Medical Group at Andersen AFB, Guam, and second place, Recinos-Escobar; nonmusical, first place, Staff Sgt. Olanrewaju Gamu Jr., 821st Contingency Response Support Squadron at Travis AFB, California, and second place, Airman 1st Class Mutia Graham, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron at Edwards AFB, California; dance, first place, Ward, and second place, Airman 1st Class Zachary Perkins, 19th AMXS at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas.

Group 2, vocal solo, first place, Staff Sgt. Timothy Sentz of the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott AFB, Illinois, and second place, Carter; vocal self-accompanied, first place, Carter, and second place, Sentz; rap, first place, Staff Sgt. Stanley Crawford of the 367th Recruiting Squadron at JBSA-Randolph.

Group 3, preteen, first place Siena Menasco and Ryver King, sponsored by Col. Jeffrey Menasco of the 86th Operations Group and Lt. Col. Dale King of NATO at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; teen, first place, Broughton; second place, MaKenzie Kelley, sponsored by Senior Master Sgt. Charmaine Kelley of Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; spouse, Elana Gilbert, sponsored by Tech. Sgt. Justin Gilbert of the 14th CES on Columbus AFB, Mississippi, and second place, Vanessa Melvin, sponsored by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Melvin of the 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron at Minot AFB, North Dakota; and family, first place, Jungmin and Kyle Diedrich, sponsored by Tech Sgt. John Diedrich, 97th IS at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and second place, Senior Airman TerRell and Desiree Jackson of the 28th CES at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.

Each first-place act was awarded $1,000, and each second-place act received $500 from the installation’s force support squadrons. Ward also won a $1,000 prize for the most creative video, which rewarded how well the videography enhanced the performance.

Ward said he and a longtime friend who often took videos of Ward’s dance group worked on the video.

“I participated last year in this competition and didn’t have the time to actually put together a good representation of my talents but this year I had time to put something together. … I hit him up and asked him for a favor and we shot the video in about three hours, took another two hours editing it and then produced the final product. It's my best work, to be honest, and I'm looking forward to making more videos in my spare time,” Ward said.

Watch the videos and vote for your favorite by following the link on http://myairforcelife.com/entertainer.

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