During her day job as a drill sergeant on Fort Leonard Wood, Sgt. Christiana Ball uses her voice to instill U.S. Army values and discipline in her Soldiers. But by night, Ball uses her voice to ignite small town karaoke stages, filling local venues with the sweet sounds of her soft but powerful vocals.
And last week, Ball took that voice to the national stage and swept the competition during Army Entertainment's Operation Rising Star.
Ball won first place at the local Fort Leonard Wood Operation Rising Star competition in the fall. She was selected to compete as one of 12 finalists at the Army competition.
On Saturday, Ball had been voted Army Entertainment's 2013 Rising Star.
Ball was one of seven finalists from garrisons in the continental U.S to compete in the signing competition.
Ball said that singing karaoke in local venues for the past few years has helped enhance her stage performance.
In fact, she chose the songs she sang during the competition based on the ones she had performed the best and most often while singing karaoke.
"Doing karaoke was a big deal for me for the last few years," she said. "There are a few places around here that do karaoke that have been my outlet for the last few years that have allowing me to sing whenever I wanted to, based off my work schedule."
Ball works as a drill sergeant with Company B, 787th Military Police Battalion on Fort Leonard Wood.
"The songs I sang [during the competition] were the ones that were my favorite to perform back here during karaoke and got a lot of good feedback," Ball said. "It was a no-brainer to pick the songs, and [karaoke] made a big difference."
During Operation Rising Star, which took place in San Antonio, Ball sang "Cowboy Casanova" by Carrie Underwood, "Broken Wing" by Martina McBride, "There is No Arizona" by Jamie O'Neal, and "Til the Last Shot's Fired" by Trace Adkins for her final song.
"I sang 'Broken Wing' for my mom and the 'Til the Last Shot's Fired' dedicated to our troops and veterans. My family has a lot of veterans and that's something that has always important to sing. It was an honor to be able to sing that song."
Ball said that her musical roots stem from her family. Ball grew up singing in churches with her siblings in Rising Fawn, Ga.
"I was one of nine children and my mom had us all sing as kind of a mini choir," she said. " I kept with singing off and on since I can remember."
Ball has had a passion for music her entire life and said Operation Rising Star was a great way to pursue her passion for singing while she was working for the Army.
Page 2 of 2 - "Since I've been in the Army, it's been kind of a challenge to find an opportunity to sing," she said. "I take every opportunity I can to sing. I've sang the National Anthem for several ceremonies on Fort Leonard Wood."
Ball had competed in Operation Rising Star in the past, but never on the national level. Ball said she was happy to pursue her passion while representing veterans.
"I love music because it's so expressive. It's a part of life," she said. "Music can really reach out to people. It affects people so obviously and easily. You can do a lot of good through singing. It makes me feel good."
Ball said she was surprised she won the competition, and very thankful for the Fort Leonard community for her success. She has spent six years at Fort Leonard Wood, dating back to 2008. She spent 15 months in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 and also spent a year in South Korea.
"The Fort Leonard Wood community's support was outstanding," she said. "If I thanked everyone individually, it would be pages of people supporting me through it. It boils down to the St. Robert, Waynesville, and Fort Leonard Wood community that really pulled through for me. My community back home was equally as supportive with my eight siblings pushing their friends to vote. It got way bigger than I realized it would would get."
Ball said her Soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood also supported her.
"My peer drill sergeant showed them a few of the the [Operation Rising Star] videos," she said. "When I came back, they said they voted for me while they were on pass [and allowed to use cell phones]. I didn't even know what to say, it was so cool to see them support me."
As part of the competition, Ball won an all-expense-paid trip to record a three-song CD. The trip includes airfare, lodging and three days of studio time at a professional recording studio and $1,000 spending cash.
In the future, Ball continues to sing while being a drill sergeant.
"I will continue doing karaoke for sure and if I have some opportunities to sing locally, as long as it fits in my schedule and doesn't take away from work,I would definitely take any opportunity I can find, as long as my chain of command is behind me supporting me," she said.
Ball said she is thankful that her chain of command has been supportive of her throughout Operation Rising Star.
"If I could only thank a few people by name it would be my chain of command," Ball said. "I wouldn't have been able to do it at all if it wasn't for them and their support. They were all about it from the start."