Vocalists typically don’t sing to earn awards or a standing ovation.
After Sgt. Amy Mahoney recently sang selections from “The Sound of Music” during a concert at New Mexico State University’s Atkinson Recital Hall, she said she was humbled when everyone in the crowd stood up and clapped.
“When I’m on stage, I try to do my best and hope the audience enjoys my performance,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been given a gift to share with the world, so when it’s appreciated and well-received, it’s very fulfilling for me as a performer.”
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Mahoney, a Medora native, performed at the concert with the 1st Armored Division Band, which is based at the Fort Bliss United States Army post in El Paso, Texas. She played trumpet for the remainder of the show.
The event was a collaborative effort between the band’s commander, Capt. Richard Winkels, and NMSU’s director of bands, Christopher Hughes. Students and staff from the university performed with the military band.
The performance had a southwestern theme and included a variety of music numbers, from western music to big brass band performances to crooning rat pack classics.
Mahoney said she lived in Medora and went to school there until she was 7. Her family then moved to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, but she said she returned to her hometown to stay with her grandmother, Phyllis Wever, every summer until college.
Mahoney moved back to the area and attended Columbus North High School for her junior and senior years.
There, she was in the jazz band, wind ensemble, Sound of North marching band, pep band, orchestra and pit orchestra for musical productions.
She served as the Sound of North drum major her senior year, and she also participated in all-state band and an honor band program hosted by Butler University.
After graduating from high school in 2000, Mahoney went to the University of Indianapolis and joined the National Guard to pay for her college education. She was a private first class and played trumpet in the 38th Infantry Division Band in Indianapolis.
Mahoney also played “Taps” for a job through college all over the state with the Indiana Military Funeral Honors Team.
“That as a very rewarding job because I was helping honor veterans,” she said.
Mahoney served with the National Guard until 2006, which also was when she earned her music degree from UIndy. She met her husband, Spencer, while serving in the National Guard band, but they didn’t begin dating until early 2006 and then married in July.
In October 2006, they both decided to join the active-duty Army.
“At that time, my husband was bartending at the Bluebird in Bloomington, and I was working funerals,” Mahoney said. “We needed jobs with benefits and figured we’d be a good fit for active-duty service since we enjoyed the Guard so much.”
They were stationed in Mannheim, Germany; Fairbanks, Alaska; and Seoul, South Korea, before landing at Fort Bliss. Mahoney said in another year or so, they will be stationed somewhere else.
“I always wanted to get out of the Midwest and travel, and the Army seemed like a good way to see different parts of the world,” she said.
Since she had been a part of the National Guard band, Mahoney learned of the active-duty band system and decided to continue in music.
She is a sergeant in the Army and is a vocalist and trumpet section leader with the 1st Armored Division Band.
Mahoney was recruited to play the trumpet, but she said the director uses band members in any capacity he can. She also now plays keyboard in the Fort Bliss Country Band.
“My mother (Beth Wever) and aunt (Pat Osborn) are both accomplished pianists, so I grew up playing whatever they were playing,” she said.
Mahoney said she has sung in every band she has served with, but it has always been a different style — rock band in Germany, jazz combo in Alaska, pop band in South Korea and country in Texas. She also has sung classical selections with the concert bands.
The 1st Armored Division Band plays all genres, but Mahoney said it is centered around patriotic music.
The band’s performances tend to be seasonal. In the summer, they will do change of command/change of responsibility ceremonies almost daily. In the fall, they do a big Veterans Day concert. The winter consists of Christmas concerts and a lot of receptions after New Year’s. Then in the spring, they do concerts.
“One thing that’s specific to Fort Bliss is the troop departures and returns,” she said. “Fort Bliss is like the gateway to the Middle East. All flights coming and going there come through Fort Bliss. We have a lot of small ensembles that go out to the planes and either send soldiers off or welcome them back home.”
In serving with the band, Mahoney said she likes the opportunities she gets to travel and the versatility of her job.
“I get to play and sing almost any style I want,” she said. “If we can put out a professional product and entertain an audience, we are able to create almost any ensemble we as musicians want to do aside from our regular duties. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, and I consider myself so fortunate to be surrounded by such talented people on a regular basis.”
Even though she now lives in Texas, Mahoney said she always remembers where she came from, and she is happy where life has taken her.
“I think there is something to be said about small-town living and the kind of character it instills in a person,” she said. “I was taught to take turns, play nice and put myself in the other person’s shoes. Serving in the military has given me the opportunity to meet people from all different places and different walks of life. It was an eye-opening experience to learn that not everyone was raised the way I was. I am grateful and proud to be from Medora and look forward to my next trip home.”
Name: Amy Wever Mahoney
Residence: El Paso, Texas
Occupation: Army musician with the 1st Armored Division Band at Fort Bliss in El Paso
Education: Columbus North High School (2000); University of Indianapolis (2006)
Military background: National Guard (2000-2006); United States Army (active duty since October 2006)
Family: Husband, Spencer Mahoney (native of Lakeland, Florida); daughter, Celeste Helene Mahoney (born Aug, 2, 2014); mother, Beth Wever Woods; father, Michael Woods; brother, William Woods; grandmother, Phyllis Wever; aunt and uncle, Pat and Larry Osborn