Groton — The Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball Planning Committee has selected the 17 finalists to compete to perform the national anthem at this year’s 113th Submarine Ball at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Saturday, April 13.
The singers will compete Friday, March 22, at the Dealey Center at the Naval Submarine Base.
Chief Machinist’s Mate Patrick Mclellan, the lead coordinator for the ball, said the committee received more auditions than last year from many great singers. The finalists are a mix of active-duty submariners, spouses of submariners and civilians.
Two of the four submariners who were selected competed last year. Machinist’s Mate Third Class Wesley Norton, who is on the USS San Juan, and Yeoman Second Class Alex Kuen, who is on the USS Virginia, are returning for a second chance.
“The talent pool this year is fierce,” Kuen said.
Lt. Cmdr. Jeremiah Minner, the executive officer on the North Dakota, and Machinist’s Mate Fireman Rudy Taylor, who is on the USS Toledo, are competing for the first time.
“I’m excited because I love to sing, but also because I have a chance to represent my command and the submarine force,” Taylor said.
The remaining 13 finalists are: Stephanie Allyson Barry, ShaunaBeth Paradiso, Rachel Grindle, Jackie Guerrera, Meredith Brooke Kindred, Brittney Longyear, Kara Magnuson, Laura McKee, Yvette Mitchell, Noelle Pollack, Jamie Lassiter Salvatore, Bonnie Surowiec and Natalie Turgeon.
Sean Patrick McGraw, a country music singer and former Nashville Star semi-finalist, Capt. Dave Roberts, the commanding officer of the Naval Submarine School, Master Chief Musician Gregory W. Dudzienski, the Navy Band Northeast assistant director, and Tom Russell, a submarine veteran and chaplain of the Subvets Groton Base, will judge the competition.
To watch the auditions, visit the Submarine Birthday Ball’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/submarineballsingoff.