Edwards engineer wins hearts one song at a time

  • Published
  • By Kenji Thuloweit
  • 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The crowd at Fresco II was packed and engaged for nearly three hours as Jennifer Housholder played her guitar and sang from her heart.

The 419th Flight Test Squadron Radar lead engineer entertained a standing-room-only Friday-night crowd at Fresco II in Palmdale, Calif. Jan. 7.

While patrons were enjoying their Mediterranean cuisine and drinks, Ms. Housholder and her guitar treated the crowd to both original and cover songs.

She performed original songs like "Stay with Me" and "In My Heart" as well as covers from artists such as Tom Petty and The Pretenders.

"In recent months I've been playing at Fresco II," Ms. Housholder said. "When they were in Lancaster, I would play every Thursday night starting in the summer. After they moved to Palmdale and opened up in November I started doing Friday nights."

Although she performed solo on this particular Friday night, she also performs occasionally with her band, the Hous Band.

Ms. Housholder first came to Edwards in 1999 after being commissioned as a lieutenant in the Air Force. She first worked for the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron and later for the F-22 Combined Test Force as an electronic warfare officer.

When she decided to leave active duty, the Pennsylvania native stayed in California and joined the Californian National Guard, as an Army officer.

"I didn't even have a week of training on the differences between the Air Force and the Army on etiquette," she said. "I went straight into the Army as a captain and showed up for my first drill. It was in December and I had my sleeves rolled up, because in the Air Force you're allowed to do that. You can wear them rolled up or down no matter what everyone else is doing.
That's not the case with the Army. I'm the only one in an Army uniform with my sleeves rolled up and a lieutenant tells me, 'You know ma'am, you might want to roll down your sleeves.' I took it as a suggestion not realizing I really had to do it to look like everyone else. There were a few things I had to learn off the cuff."

These days, when she's not running radar testing for three bomber platforms on base or recording new songs in the studio, Ms. Housholder plays yet another talented role as an Army Black Hawk helicopter pilot in the Army Reserve.

Major Housholder is an S-3 Special Projects officer for the 244th Aviation Brigade out of Fort Dix, N.J.  She flies out of the old George Air Force Base in Victorville, Calif.

Ms. Housholder says she draws her inspiration for her songs from her feelings within and from her experiences abroad.

It's her two deployments to Southwest Asia as an Army helicopter pilot that have inspired her to write some of her own songs.

"It's always been the same thing and that's communicating what's in my heart, expressing what I'm moved by, things I'm working through and struggling through," she said.  "I started writing 'Stay with Me' a month and a half before we left (Southwest Asia) in 2009. I was on a deployment with the Army. I had the music and an idea what I wanted to do with the song. 'Stay with me' was the pervasive thought in my head. Those who have been deployed, sometimes it's very hard coming back and reintegrating into life and it's very stressful on the relationships back home."

She is currently working on a total of 10 songs in the studio and is hoping to release an extended play single, which has more music than a single -- usually four or five tracks -- but not enough to be considered a full album.

When it comes to her musical future, Ms. Housholder said she doesn't know how things will unfold but it looks promising.

"I never imagined it would be what it is now," she said. "If you asked me 10 years ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd be doing this. 

"I don't know that I have it all figured out," she said, "but what I do know is there is something that people are responding to out of the music and maybe something out of the writing. Maybe those things can be a help and a positive thing, so if that's the case then I hope it (her music career) will continue on where it needs to go."