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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • From karaoke to TV

  • Fort Leonard Wood drill sergeant makes debut on television concert
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  • Sgt. Christiana Ball broke in her pipes four years ago when she started singing karaoke at the Elbow Inn.
    So it was fitting that she hosted a watch party at the classic Route 66 joint Tuesday night to view her performance with Lee Brice on CBS.
    Ball was one of 12 military members to be chosen to sing with country music stars on the Academy of Country Music Awards Salute to the Troops, a two-hour concert special that aired on CBS Tuesday night.
    Ball, who works as a drill sergeant with Company B, 787th Military Police Battalion on Fort Leonard Wood, said that she had hardly sang in front of an audience before moving to Pulaski County. In 2009, she started looking at the karaoke books at the Elbow Inn and taking on the small town stage.
    “I sang karaoke like twice in my life ever before coming here,” Ball said. “I came down [to the Elbow Inn] and then started singing and doing karaoke every weekend. I had never sang anything other than church music before coming here.”
    Ball said she also sang for her unit when she was deployed in Iraq from 2008 to 2009. She has spent six years at Fort Leonard Wood, dating back to 2008.
    In 2013, Ball started singing for more than just local karaoke audiences. She was selected as one of 12 finalists to compete in Army Entertainment's 2013 Rising Star in San Antonio, Texas, and won the competition.
    In April, the soft-spoken drill sergeant flew to Las Vegas to tape Salute to the Troops. Ball was the last performance of the evening, singing “I Drive Your Truck,” which tells the spine-chilling story of a brother who lost a soldier overseas, with Lee Brice.
    The packed audience at the Elbow Inn watched and cheered as Ball hit the high notes on the television screen.
    Ball said “she cried a little” watching herself performing on national television at the place where she started singing karaoke.
    Ball said she still plans on singing karaoke as much as she can while working as a drill sergeant for the next year.
    Next month, Ball plans to join Lee Brice in St. Louis to perform at the first of his two concerts.

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