By Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 26, 2009 - With towering vocals that defy her small stature, Army Sgt. Brenda Bushera, a member of the 34th Red Bull Infantry Band, has made a connection with the people of Iraq. The Wausaukee, Wisc., native has sung the Iraqi national anthem at a number of events since deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including transfer of authority ceremonies here and at Contingency Operating Base Adder.
Singing the Iraqi anthem is the easy part, Bushera said. Learning it, however, was a daunting process that required extensive work with interpreters to learn the pronunciation and diction of the Arabic words in the song.
"I worked with a British interpreter and an Iraqi interpreter to learn the anthem," Bushera said. "The interpreters wrote the words out phonetically for me and I had to work extensively with them to get the diction right."
Bushera, who plays saxophone in the Red Bull Band, approached Army Chief Warrant Officer Trygve Skaar, the band leader, five days before the transfer ceremony and told him she was ready to sing the Iraqi national anthem.
"That was a goal we had," Skaar said. "We wanted to connect with the Iraqi public in a meaningful way. What better way to do that than through their national anthem?"
Bushera, who has a master's degree in vocal performance from Northwestern University in Chicago, said she worked as hard as she did to learn the anthem because she believes the Iraqi people should hear their anthem and take pride in it.
"Their anthem is relatively new," Bushera said. "Many of them don't even know it. I felt it was extremely important for the Iraqi people to hear their anthem and have pride in it. This was a good way for them to have pride in their freedom."
"It builds nationalism," Skaar added. "You can see the emotion on their faces when they hear the song. When we did it at the Romanian ceremony at Adder, some of them actually broke into applause when it was finished!"
Skaar gives a lot of credit to Bushera for the hard work she put into making this goal a reality.
"She is one of the Army's best, both on the saxophone and vocally," Skaar said. "She's an amazing talent, and we are fortunate to have her."
(Army Sgt. Frank Vaughn serves with Multinational Division South public affairs office.)