BROADALBIN - When U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paige Martin sings on the stage at Broadalbin-Perth High School on Saturday, she will be singing in her hometown.
Martin, who graduated in 1990 from Broadalbin-Perth High School, said she expects many familiar faces will be in the auditorium watching her do what she loves.
"I'm absolutely living my dream being in the Airmen of Note," she said Thursday. "I get to serve my country and do what I love."
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paige Martin performs with the Airmen of Note in this undated photo.
Martin is the vocalist with the U.S. Air Force's Airmen of Note. According to the U.S. Air Force Band's website - www.usafband.af.mil - the Airmen of Note is "the premier Jazz ensemble of the U.S. Air Force." The Air Force has a number of ensemble groups besides the Airmen of Note, including the Air Force Strings, the Ceremonial Brass and Max Impact.
From a young age, Martin said, she wanted to be a professional singer.
Bette Davison of Vail Mills, Martin's mother, said when her daughter was in grade school she would climb on top of the monkey bars at school and sing songs for everyone.
Before she was old enough to do that, Davison fondly recalled she would find Martin humming in her crib.
"She sang before she could talk," Davison said with a laugh.
While Martin joined the Airmen of Note and the Air Force in 2003, her desire to join the group sprang from a performance by an Air Force band she saw a decade before that.
In 1993, Martin was a student at Schenectady County Community College. While there, she spent time as the featured vocalist with the college's jazz ensemble, the vocal chamber ensemble and the Empire jazz ensemble, the Air Force website said.
Martin said an Air Force band played at the college that year. After that concert, Martin said, she knew what she wanted to do - sing with an Air Force band.
Waiting for the Note
However, Martin - who wanted to sing for the Airmen of Note - had to wait for the band to hold auditions for a new vocalist.
According to the Air Force Band website, the Airmen of Note "features 18 of the most talented jazz musicians in the country and is one of the last touring big bands. As a result, it has earned an international reputation as one of the finest and most versatile big bands of its kind in the world."
The group, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, has toured around the world and collaborated with artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson and Sarah Vaughan, the website said.
Martin found plenty of work to keep herself busy. According to the Air Force website, Martin went to Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn., where she pursued a bachelor's degree in vocal performance.
Martin was the featured vocalist with the college's jazz band and concert band and a soloist with the college's concert choir.
Martin also worked as a freelance musician near Knoxville, Tenn. Martin was the featured vocalist with the Streamliners, a popular Knoxville dance band, the website said. Martin appeared with the Knoxville Opera Company and was a featured soloist with the East Tennessee Jazz Orchestra and the Oak Ridge Chorus.
However, Martin said, she had not given up her hope of performing with the Airmen of Note.
"Somewhere in my heart of hearts, I knew I was meant to perform with this group," she said.
Martin actually found out auditions were happening through a friend she was talking to on the eBay website.
"So I joke with people that I found my job on eBay," she said with a laugh.
Martin - who was known as Paige Wroble when she graduated - also performs with her husband in the group. Master Sgt. Jeff Martin, the group's second trombonist, and Paige reside in Waldorf, Md. Their daughter, Natalie, will be 2 years old in January.
When Martin sings with the Airmen of Note on Saturday, she said, it will be the first time she has performed in the high school since she graduated.
Martin credits what she learned as a student in Broadalbin-Perth with helping her achieve her goals.
Davison said her daughter was always very determined she was going to be a singer. Martin did not shy away from doing the work necessary to improve her skills, she said.
"I'm extremely proud," Davison said. "I could go on and on. I'm just so proud of her."
In an e-mail, Martin noted many people assume flying an aircraft is high on the agenda of members of the Air Force.
However, she said the Air Force offers nearly 150 different career fields, and many do not involve flying a plane.
"In fact, it's a startlingly small percentage of Air Force members that ever lays hands on the controls of an aircraft," she said in the e-mail.
For any students interested in making a career as a vocalist, Martin said it is important to learn all of the skills necessary to make a career out of performing.
For example, while the Airmen of Note is a Jazz ensemble, Martin is a classically trained vocalist. So if the Singing Sergeants, the official chorus of the Air Force, ask Martin to come and perform with them, she said, she has the ability to learn and perform the songs.
When the Airmen of Note perform their mix of patriotic pieces, big band and contemporary jazz at the concert Saturday, Martin will be ready when she is called on.
The Airmen of Note will perform Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Broadalbin-Perth High School auditorium, 100 Bridge St. Although the concert will be free, tickets are required. For more information about getting tickets, call The Leader-Herald at 725-8616.