Thursday, April 29, 2010

4 Troops: Singing For The Soldiers

From NPR Radio: 

The group 4 Troops got its start performing for military audiences.

The members of 4 Troops first made a name for themselves while in the military, singing pop and country songs for soldiers overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that they're all out of the service, they're also singing for veterans, as well as recording an album. The proceeds will go to veterans' charity groups such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

They're about to begin a tour of military bases around the U.S., but first, they stopped by NPR's studios to talk to Weekend Edition Sunday guest host Jacki Lyden about their project.

Capt. Meredith Melcher, Sgt. Daniel Jens, Staff Sgt. Ron Henry and Sgt. David Clemo met through army programs such as Operation Rising Star, a military version of American Idol. As musically gifted soldiers in combat, their stories are unique, though they share what Henry describes as "the common bond of music."

The album is set to be released in May, and is rooted in a pop sound. But, as Melcher says, there's a diversity to the soldiers' tastes.

"That's the cool thing about the Army: Everybody comes to the table with different loves of different genres of music," Melcher says. "When you're out there and you're deployed and singing songs together, people who start out just liking R&B and hip-hop end up singing some country stuff along the way, too."

"Usually, after missions, I'd grab my guitar and start singing," Jens says. "After a while, my buddies started requesting stuff and singing along. It was really cool."

Their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan are heavy influences on the music of 4 Troops. Though the songs are overwhelmingly patriotic, the group's members say they seek to highlight the personal struggles endured by soldiers and their families.

"That's really what gets you through," Clemo says. "Having the strength of the family support, knowing that you're going to get back home."

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