When last we left her, Dahlgren Navy wife Christina Williams was riding a high as she left Dahlgren to compete in the Operation Rising Star singing competition sponsored by US Army MWR that took her to San Antonio.
Since then, she went deep into the competition and made it to the top four of 12, and experienced appearing on live television, met several celebrity judges and even found herself at an Inaugural Ball.
Her priority is to say "what an honor it was to be able to represent the Naval Support Facility Dahlgren. I cannot thank you all enough for the support that has been given to me throughout the time that I was in San Antonio and the support to get me to San Antonio. Thank you, thank you, thank you!" said Williams, who benefited from online voting by friends, family and supporters during the competition.
Her journey to Texas was certainly intimidating, plus Williams was alone while working on Operation Rising Star. Her husband Cody, a student at the Aegis Training and Readiness Center, wasn't able to go with her, but "I didn't have a lot of time on my hands away from rehearsals and shows so everything worked out perfectly," said Williams. "Since it was in San Antonio, none of my friends and family could be in the audience but I knew that all of them were watching online and rooting for me while I was there.
"From the very first night that we arrived, we all knew that it was going to be a group effort to get through the two weeks in one piece," said Williams. "The only alone time we had was when we slept at night. From 6 o'clock in the morning to 8 o'clock at night, we were working together as groups and then working with vocal coaches individually on our own songs throughout the day."
Contestants were able to choose their own songs, and "before we even went to San Antonio we were asked to choose 10 songs to get us through the competition. We practiced these songs every day with a vocal coach who taught us so much throughout the two weeks that we were there," said Williams.
Contestants worked with celebrity coaches that also served as judges. "They would take us individually and work with us on the songs that we were going to sing for the show the next night," said Williams. Practices ran all day, "so as you can imagine we were all very tired by the time we got back to the hotel," said Williams.
The experience of being on TV was "surreal" for the Tennessee native. "It was kind of an out of body experience being able to see yourself on the monitors and knowing that you could not go back and redo what you just sang," she said.
"I learned that you had to not put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Things would happen that you couldn't go back and change and you really just had to go with the flow."
Even though her friends and family weren't there, she found support close by. "The audience was pretty big and I was lucky enough to have the first three rows be Navy men and women. I was so excited to learn that they were going to be there throughout the two weeks. It really gave me confidence knowing that they were there to support me as well as the other contestants," said Williams. "The audience was amazing. They were always so supportive of us!" she said.
In addition to the support of the audience, Williams was surrounded by kindred spirits in her fellow competitors. "They were a joy to work with. We quickly became friends the first night - we went to dinner and did everything together from then on," said Williams.
"We all keep up with each other through texts and phone calls. We even made a Facebook page for us to keep up with what we're doing and where we are. This experience brought us so close together that I know we will all be lifelong friends."
While Williams isn't sure the experience will lead to a career in music, she believes that participating in Operation Rising Star "gave me the confidence to say yes to anyone that asks me to sing anywhere." She did keep contact information from one of the judges and looks forward to performing for any organization or event that might ask.
The new year found her back in Dahlgren but a wonderful surprise awaited - she and her husband were randomly selected to attend the Commander-In-Chief Inaugural Ball.
"We got to see President Obama and his wife, Brad Paisley, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Hudson" as well as numerous military leaders, said Williams. "It was another once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were so honored to be able to go and be in a room with so many wonderful people. "
Williams and her husband will remain at Dahlgren as he finishes school and they await orders to their next duty station in April. "I'm not really sure what comes next. I would love to continue to sing locally. I have grown to love Dahlgren, Virginia and would love to share my talent anywhere at any time."
Despite so many fantastic moments, Williams can pinpoint the one that was key.
"I would say that my best experience would have to be the moment I sang the last note of my first song (during Operation Rising Star). I had a feeling of pure accomplishment and gratitude for everything that happened to get me to that place," said Williams
"I would absolutely do it all over again tomorrow if I could! It was an amazing experience and I will always be grateful for everything I gained by going."
She also had some advice for next year's Operation Rising Star contestants - "Just do it! Don't let your self- doubt hold you back, be yourself and enjoy it!"