ARLINGTON, Va. – For Sergeant (SGT) Vicki Golding, a vocalist with the District of Columbia Army National Guard’s 257th Army Band, performing during the recent Centenary of Mateship celebration event was, in a way, about coming full circle.
The celebration, held in Virginia, marked the 100-year alliance between the United States and Australia, and was a fitting opportunity for SGT Golding, a Brisbane, Australia, native who now lives in the U.S.
“In terms of representing both countries, this event felt like it was ready-made for me,” says SGT Golding, who was approached by Australian Embassy officials to perform at the event once they learned she was vocalist in the D.C. Army Guard.
“It wasn’t lost on me on what a big deal this was for a girl from Brisbane – ending up here in D.C. with the best military band in the country.”
Her journey from “Down Under” to singing in the 257th Army Band started in childhood where she was part of a family musical act with her three sisters and brother. Her father, whom SGT Golding described as the “essential music man,” led the group.
“My father was a music teacher and an opera singer and was a very technical musician. He was just the sort of person [who] would make you want to do better.”
While the music bug subsided for her siblings, SGT Golding’s love of performing continued.
Following the footsteps of a high school friend, she enlisted in the Australian army as a musician, eventually landing a position as a vocalist.
When the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” performed during an international tattoo (military entertainment performance) in Brisbane, SGT Golding says she was captivated by the variety of music they played.
“They had a rock band and a rhythm section along with the trombone section,” she says, adding she felt she was witnessing the “sheer talent of a premier band.”
Years later, marriage to an American brought her to the Washington, D.C., area.
Though she had left the Australian army, SGT Golding says she was still interested in serving and performing. That led her to reach out to Soldiers she knew from “Pershing’s Own,” who suggested the 257th Army Band as a good fit.
She followed the suggestion and enlisted in the Guard in 2003, even though the band didn’t have a singer vacancy at the time.
“When I first joined the 257th, I had videos and demos of me singing, and I said, ‘Look, I can play tuba, I can play percussion, but I really want to sing for you guys.’”
Eventually, a vocalist position opened up, and she wasted no time in securing her new role. Now, SGT Golding performs more than 35 shows a year, representing the D.C. Army Guard and the Army as a vocalist.
She says she thrives off the excitement of large-scale shows, especially in stadiums when she sings “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“It’s a sacred piece that never gets old because there’s this energy that comes from the audience. You can feel the audience just waiting for you to sing it to them.”
But it was a military funeral for a D.C. Guard member lost in battle that she will never forget.
“I was singing the national anthem, maybe 10 feet away was his family, and I remember struggling.”
Years of performing in uniform, however, provided the focus needed to sing the song through.
“They had just lost their family member,” says SGT Golding. “If I can’t suck it up for 90 seconds, be professional, and do my job when they lost just about everything – that’s just not acceptable to me.”
SGT Golding brings that same kind of discipline and love of music to the civilian side, volunteering at non-profit organizations that cater to military spouses and veterans who use musical therapy to treat post-traumatic stress.
“I have been blessed with musical abilities, and any time I feel I am not using them, I feel like I am wasting something that was given to me,” she says. “And so I want to share what I have been given, whether it’s performing, teaching, or writing musical arrangements – whatever that might be.”
SGT Golding adds that her civilian experiences working with non-profit organizations, plus keeping abreast of popular music trends, help broaden her horizons as a military vocalist.
“It’s not a bad thing to think outside of the box,” she says. “Because if things aren’t flexible, they’ll break sometimes.”
While SGT Golding says the pinnacle of her musical ambition is performing on a network show back in her native country, she is thrilled with being a singing Soldier and sharing the same kind of camaraderie in the D.C. Army Guard as she felt in Australia.
“The common thread between the two militaries is the sense of family,” she says. “It was a real lifeline for me in Australia, and the same is true here in America.”
So if you’re looking for a way to use your talents and work on a team that becomes like a second family, consider joining the Army National Guard, where you can be an Army Bandperson like SGT Golding, or just about anything else you can imagine.
That’s because the Guard offers training in more than 150 careers, and you can research all of them on our job board by State, category, or keyword. Learn more about how you can serve part-time in the Guard and take advantage of its benefits like money for college by contacting your local recruiter.
From an original article by Tech. Sgt. Erich Smith, National Guard Bureau, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in June.