Competing among the best
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- At age six she was already on her way to follow in the family tradition of singing.
Angela Paraino's devotion to music grew more and more as time passed, spending hours with her aunt practicing vocals on their karaoke machine.
But it wasn't until sixth grade when she realized becoming an artist was a goal worth striving for, and since then her dedication to music has led to success after success.
Paraino, daughter of Master Sgt. Robert McNeill, 35th Medical Support Squadron clinical engineering section chief, and member of the Edgren High School Air Force Junior ROTC, was given the opportunity to compete alongside active-duty members for the 2015 Air Force Entertainer of the Year title.
Earlier this year, she won the Misawa Stars Junior Talent Show hosted by the 35th Force Support Squadron and had her performance video submitted to the Operation Talent Search division. She was then selected by the judges of Air Force Entertainment, Air Force Services Activity, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to travel to Texas to record a video performance.
"It was all a surprise for me, I had no idea," said Paraino. "I didn't think it was true."
Unfortunately, her parents could not travel with her because of their busy schedule, but a friend of the family, Master Sgt. Brian Brantley, 35th Surgical Operations Squadron diagnostic imaging flight chief, flew with her to Texas as her chaperone.
"I was very excited for her and glad to see her hard work and passion for her music was being recognized," said Brantley. "Angela was very excited I was able to accompany her and share in the experience, and relieved I was there to handle navigating the extended travel via planes, trains and automobiles."
While in Texas, Paraino had the opportunity to meet performers of the Air Force Tops in Blue.
"I also got to sing as a prelude to a Tops in Blue show while I was there," Paraino said. "When I perform on stage, I love seeing the smiles and excitement of the audience. It helps keep me going and reaching for my dreams."
She sang a rendition of "Girl on Fire" by artist Alicia Keys, for her performance.
"I created my own version of it," said Paraino. "I added my own rap to it because I wanted to convey my own unique message."
Since sixth grade when she learned to play the acoustic guitar, Paraino has been writing original songs in which she expresses feelings about her life in a specific moment of time.
"It was all mixed emotions for me at that time, so I wrote about it," said Paraino. "Whether it was about hard or happy times, I'd write about what I have gone through in my life."
Currently, she is in "The Millenials" school band.
Being a military daughter, she's traveled to various locations; yet, wherever she finds herself, she looks for a musical niche to be part of or competitions to take part in.
"I've done a lot of talent competitions and I have won almost all of them," said Paraino. "Some people have told me it's not fair that I join the competitions and they say 'we know you're going to win.'"
Brantley has done his best to provide mentorship to Paraino in dealing with high pressure situations.
"I have advised her to follow her dreams with passion and determination, and to appreciate both your success and failures to truly achieve your full potential," said Brantley.
For now, Paraino is focused on finishing high school and leading her fellow companions to a successful year as the JROTC squadron commander.
"JROTC is one of my favorite subjects because I love being a team captain," said Paraino. "If a singing career doesn't work out, then I love the idea of possibly joining the Air Force as an officer."
To see Paraino's performance and vote for her as Air Force Entertainer of the Year, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJRD-wXhzT0&rel=0 and like the video.
Photo: Angela Paraino, daughter of Master Sgt. Robert McNeill, 35th Medical Support Squadron clinical engineering section chief, sings a rendition of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 29, 2015. Paraino competed against active-duty members for the title of 2015 Air Force Entertainer of the Year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo)
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