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Interview with Operation Rising Star finalist Pfc. Kiari Mhoon

JBLM soldier is in Army singing finals

Kiari Mhoon is the 2013 JBLM Operation Rising Star winner. Courtesy photo

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By the time some reality shows enter a ninth season, viewers are bored and finding participants to be on camera is even tougher. Yet Operation Rising Star, the Army Entertainment singing competition, is still going strong and Pfc. Kiari Mhoon is grateful.

He is also talented and that's why Joint Base Lewis-McChord has an entrant in the Army-wide Operation Rising Star finals, to be held in December.

"I started singing at eight when I was in my mother's kitchen," said JBLM's newest star. "I would do Michael Jackson, complete with the dance moves and singing."

"I saw a sign on base that said if you like to sing enter this competition ... so I gave it a shot and the next thing you know, I won it," he said.

With his first place win on JBLM, Mhoon was awarded $500 and a video of his performance was sent to Army Entertainment, which then selected the top 12 singers from more than 30 entries received from participating posts worldwide.

He will head to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Dec. 1 and spend the next two weeks rehearsing, meeting his fellow competitors, and, of course, singing his heart out.

Mhoon, who recently turned 20 and only joined the Army last August, loves upbeat, pop music and cites crooners like Frank Sinatra, Luther Vandross and Marvin Gaye among his favorites. That being said, he is confident that he can sing almost anything.

"I don't get nervous to perform, I'm just anxious to get up there and do it," said Mhoon. "Nervous means you doubt what you're doing and I'm ready to let the world see what I can do."

During the JBLM competition in October, Mhoon wowed judges with a rendition of Kid Rock's "Only God Knows Why," which he hopes to be able to use again in San Antonio. However, while he was able to send a list of his 10 favorite songs to the judges ahead of time, the specific songs he gets to perform will be assigned based on his range and the genres represented on his list.

"I'll be happy with songs that carry out the soul of true R&B," he said.

The contest will begin Dec. 8 when Mhoon will compete against 11 other singers. Then, the top eight will move onto the second round, which will air Dec. 10. Again the pool of talent will be narrowed down and just four singers will head to round three, which will air Dec. 12. Performers will be scored based on both the judges' votes and votes from the public.

Finally, Dec. 14, two vocalists will vie for the Rising Star title and a recording deal with Army Entertainment, which includes a trip to Los Angeles and a chance to record a three-song demo in a professional studio.

All performances will be posted at 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on the dates listed above and then the voting window will remain open for 24 hours after the end of each broadcast. The pre-recorded performances will be aired on the Pentagon channel (check listings) and can also be viewed here:

"This is my dream. I was born to do this," Mhoon said.

To support Mhoon as he represents the soldiers of JBLM and to vote him in as the Army's 2013 Rising Star, log into

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