Dental assistant sings toward the top

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- As Tops in Blue, the Air Force's premier entertainment showcase, comes through San Angelo Sunday, one member of the audience will be looking for her friends in the cast and may even quietly hum along.

Staff Sgt. Marcie Walton, a dental assistant with the 17th Medical Group, tried out for the show during 10 days of grueling audtions at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, including practice shows three out of the final four days.

"It was phenomenal being able to spend time with people who share my love for music," she said. "There's just no way to describe it; I was thinking 'what am I doing here among all these bright people?'" she added.

Out of the more than 150 people who auditioned for Tops in Blue in various categories, only 56 were chosen. Though Sergeant Walton was not selected, she said she plans to audition again next year.

"I'm working on marketing myself a little better before next year, practicing breathing and ear pitch and re-learning the flute as well," she said. "I'll find every way I can to put myself out there as a performer," she added.

Singing, Sergeant Walton said, has always been her passion. She majored in music during college, and has been singing with church groups or at events, like the Air Force Ball in 2006, since then.

"I'm kind of a quirky individual," she said, "since I spend my free time singing in my office."

According to their Web site, "Tops in Blue serves as an expeditionary entertainment unit to provide quality entertainment from within Air Force resources for the Air Force family, with priority to Air Force personnel stationed worldwide at remote and deployed locations while simultaneously promoting community relations, supporting recruiting efforts and serving as ambassadors for the United States of America and the United States Air Force."

The 2007 Tops in Blue tour will perform Sunday, 7 p.m. at the San Angelo City Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, but seats have been filled quickly in previous years.

As for Sergeant Walton, she'll be in the audience cheering on her friends, and she says she still sings in her office.

"I would spend every moment singing if I could," she said.