She burst into the American conscious two years ago at the tender age of 16. Though Diana DeGarmo did not win the title of “American Idol,” many people thought she should have. Since that time, DeGarmo has been one of the busiest of the American Idol contestants. She is wrapping up a tenure as Penny Pingleton on the Broadway production of Hairspray. This past Thanksgiving, she performed at the Macy’s parade.
DeGarmo has also appeared on such shows as Blue Collar TV, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Live With Regis and Kelly, The View, Ellen, and The Early Show.
She has won many accolades, too: her first single, “Dreams,” was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Singles Sales chart, followed by her album, Blue Skies. This year, she was awarded the Music for Life Award by NAMM, the international music products association, for her advocacy on Capitol Hill for music and the arts in schools.
Last year, Diana performed in the 2005 USO/Pentagon Christmas tour of war zones, accompanying Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace.
Diana comes from a family that has a long history of service to this country. Her maternal grandfather, M. Bill Hall, was in the Army Air Corps, the predecessor to the Air Force. He was a pilot who rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He fought in WWI, participated in the Berlin Airlift, and served in Korea and in Africa.
One of her uncles, (another) Bill Hall, was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force. He was a spotter pilot in Vietnam and flew in the eyes of hurricanes. Another of Diana’s uncles was in the Air Force for a short time, as well. Diana has another uncle by marriage, Dominick Bevacqua, who was a Lieutenant in the Navy.
Diana’s brother, David Evans, is a Captain in the Army. He is on his third tour of duty now – first in serving in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. He is an engineer who has won a Top Gun award. He became an FAA licensed pilot at 14.
Military Money: Tell me about your upcoming CD.
DD: It’s mostly pop music, but with an urban flair. I’m writing some of it, but not all of the songs. We’re looking to get it out this Summer. There will be a whole bunch of publicity surrounding it – you won’t be able to miss it!
Military Money: What are your plans for the future? Do they include college?
I would like to go to college, when I have the time. I have so many things going on right now. Fifteen years from now, I’d like to be touring the world.
Military Money: You come from a military family. What lessons have you learned from them about the importance of the troops?
DD: No matter what you believe about the war, you have to support the troops. You have to appreciate the sacrifice they all make.
Military Money: Tell me about performing in war zones. What were the logistics of that?
DD: It was very scary! We weren’t told where we going. It was to be safe. It was eye-opening to see men and women in full body armor and carrying weapons! We were told to be prepared to walk on all kinds of different surfaces, to bring appropriate shoes. I usually wear heels! And, we had to pack everything in one carry-on bag, no other luggage. It’s easier on guys: they just run their hands through their hair and go! No straightening irons for them. We stayed in everything from five star hotels to barracks, which were really tents. We had to bring flashlights, in case there wasn’t any power. We were also told to bring Purell, since there’d be situations when we couldn’t wash our hands. We were told to stay close to the group. Also, to be prepared for when the General would leave, it was time to go! I want to say this: he and his wife were the most amazing, nice and down-to-earth people I have ever met. I respect him so much! He was like a father figure to me; I called him “Dad”!
Military Money: Do you have any more performances for the troops scheduled?
DD: I’m scheduled to play for the troops during the next Christmas holiday show. I don’t know where it will be, yet! During my last tour, it was unbelievable – I slept in Saddam Hussein’s palace on New Year’s Eve! There was a pond, but we were told, “Don’t touch the water, it’s toxic!” We watched the ball drop on CNN. Then, I went to the troops staying at a hospital in Germany. There was a bottle of Purell in each room, because they didn’t want you transferring germs. I was with the wounded veterans.