by Master Sgt. Dave Foster
5/29/2015 - Washington, D.C. -- Magic. Ka. Fate. Synchronicity.
Call it what you will, but every once and a while, the stars align and create the perfect scenario for special events to transpire. Some of that magic happened last fall when Max Impact lost long-time singer extraordinaire, Master Sgt. Shani Prewitt, to retirement, and began auditioning vocalists to fill her shoes. That's when nineteen-year-old Nalani Quintello showed up and stunned the audition committee, walking away as the new female vocalist for Max Impact. But, there's more to the story. At the time, she was a contestant on the popular hit television show, "American Idol," where she was sure to go to Hollywood and perform for Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban. However, before completing the competition, Quintello announced her withdrawal from the show and her decision to become, instead, an American Airman.
Born in Germany, Quintello's family moved to Florida when she was eight. During her youth, she developed a love for singing, performing at school and church. When she turned fourteen, she started performing at nursing homes, festivals and talent shows. "That's when I realized that I wanted to be a musician, because I saw the way that the residents would react at the nursing home ... they just appreciated music so much," she said. "I wanted to be able to do that on a much bigger level as a part of something more than just me."
Quintello is no stranger to military service, so the decision to raise her right hand was not a difficult one. "I come from a military family. My dad was in the Army, and my sister is currently serving in the Air Force. So, I've always wanted to experience what it's like to serve."
After winning the audition, Quintello spent the next eight weeks in San Antonio learning what being an Airman is all about. "My favorite parts of basic training were shooting the M16 rifle and going to church every Sunday. I learned a lot about myself at basic training. When you are put into high stress situations, you really start appreciating the little things like taking your time on a meal and getting a good night's sleep." Although Quintello loved basic training (even earning the nickname "the shovel" due to her eating habits), she was glad to finally get settled in Washington, D.C. She hit the ground running and hasn't slowed down yet.
Quintello has only been in the Air Force now for four months, but she's already turning heads and making great strides. She's the youngest technical sergeant in the Air Force but brings a wealth of musical experience to The U.S. Air Force Band. Recently, she performed at the 2015 Air Force Charity Ball in front of the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force, receiving rave reviews from both.
What does Quintello enjoy the most about being in Max Impact? "We get to use music as a therapeutic tool to help our fellow Airmen, who face challenges and struggles every day in their work to keep us free. Also, I get to work with such professional and amazing musicians--plus, it's like I suddenly have five older brothers. I've only ever had an older sister, so to have five new "brothers" is just absolutely amazing. Everyone is so professional in their own way. Everyone brings something very unique to the table, and I'm so blessed and honored to be able to work with a group like Max Impact."
When asked about her personal goals she said, "Some of things that I'm looking for in the future is to keep giving back to the community and to be a good role model for kids my age out there and to just have fun, living life and positively representing the Air Force."
Coincidence, then, that newly minted Technical Sgt. Nalani Quintello, a perfect match for Max Impact, just happened to come along at the perfect time, turning her back on a chance at fame and fortune for a chance to serve her country? Maybe the stars did align, maybe fate stepped in. But when you hear her perform under the stars on a warm summer night, you'll have only one word for it--magic.