If you love to sing and perform on stage or dream of recording your own music while traveling the country for 300 days each year, the Army may have just the job for you.
Campbell tours the country performing original music to audiences that include prospective recruits, high school students and concert goers. This summer she will perform alongside acts such as blessthefall, BoyMeetsWorld and Juliet Simms as part of the Vans Warped Tour.
"I'm known as the U.S. Army singer because I'm the only one doing this," Campbell said. "There are a lot of musicians in the Army, and the biggest difference between them and what I'm doing now is I'm being used as a marketing tool through my own music that I wrote and recorded. There's nobody else doing that in an official capacity right now."
Campbell, who has been the Army Musical Outreach featured performer for about four years, is just the second soldier to do the job. Now-retired Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Buckley was the first, and he did it for seven years.
The Army is looking for a new singer and performer to replace Campbell in the coming years.
Photo Credit: Courtesy U.S. Army
Army Recruiting Command is now accepting applications from soldiers – from any military occupational specialty – who think they can make the cut.
The deadline to apply is June 15 - extended from the original deadline of June 1. Once the applicants are whittled down to three to five finalists, those soldiers will be brought in to Recruiting Command for a live audition and an interview, said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Staudacher, the manager and noncommissioned officer in charge of Army Musical Outreach.
"We're really looking for somebody who is great at music," he said. "They have to be a great vocalist, but they're also a marketing tool. They have to have a great Army story."
Applicants also must be sergeants or higher with at least four years of service. Applicants also must have at least three years of service left and at least 24 months at their current assignment so they can be eligible for a permanent change of station.
Interested soldiers also should be comfortable with doing interviews and appearances, Staudacher said.
Applicants to become the Army's singer must be sergeants or higher with at least four years of service.
Photo Credit: Army
The soldier who's eventually chosen to replace Campbell will be reassigned as a recruiter, and performing full time will be their duty, Staudacher said.
Those interested in the gig also should know the team – Campbell, Staudacher, guitarist Staff Sgt. Stephen Ebert and drummer Staff Sgt. Peter Greenberg – have a grueling schedule.
"We're on the road 302 days this year, with 228 shows in 42 states," Staudacher said.
The soldiers on his team are able to change many young people's perception about the military, he said.
"We want to go into places as a perception-changer and go into places we're not expected to be," Staudacher said. "The military in a country music festival is expected. The military in the Vans Warped Tour, not so much."
SGT Corrin Campbell
Photo Credit: Courtesy U.S. Army
"I didn't even know [this job] was a possibility," she said.
She initially joined the Army in 2000 as a bass player. She served for five years and deployed to Iraq with the 1st Cavalry Division. During that deployment, from March 2004 to March 2005, she spent about half of her time performing for deployed troops and the other half supporting the military police with guard and quick-reaction force duty, she said.
She left the Army in 2005 and served part-time in the Maryland National Guard. She started college at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and pursued music with her own band, but quickly realized she missed life in uniform.
"There just wasn't the same level of camaraderie, and I liked working for a great purpose," she said. "I just didn't feel that [in college]."
Campbell reenlisted in 2009, again as a bass player.
"I had been pursuing my band while I was in college, and when I came back in, that band was already rolling in the Baltimore scene," she said.
The band, Corrin Campbell and the Election, opened Lilith Fair in 2010 and played on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally.
"It was working out and we were selling albums," Campbell said. "I think the notoriety that came with that is kind of what made me a good candidate for this gig. I didn't even know it existed."
Campbell quickly found her calling, even licensing to the Army the music she and her band had recorded. That music, which Campbell licensed to the Army for free, is now used on CDs that are given to students and participants at her shows.
Being the featured performer puts Campbell and her three fellow NCOs on the road about 300 days a year.
"It's just the four of us touring," she said. "We have to hold each other accountable."
The four soldiers do it all, from driving to setting up instruments to managing social media.
"We do what a label would do for a band," she said.
Their main audience is high school students, "people who are prospectively going to join the Army," Campbell said. They also perform at national sporting events.
In the summer, when school is not in session, the band does festivals and concerts. This summer, they will perform at all 40 venues of the Vans Warped Tour.
"It's a festival that breeds discovering new music," she said. "When we play original music and they come up to us and say 'we liked that' and we tell them we're all combat vets, that flips the script on them."
Campbell said she and her team are able to break barriers and make the Army more accessible to young people.
"We get to show the individuality that's in each soldier and show that there are jobs that are really wicked and the Army has a lot more to offer than people think," she said.
Even though Campbell recently reenlisted for two more years, the hunt for her successor must begin now.
It takes about two years to bring the new performer up to speed, record some music with that soldier, and set up all of that person's marketing material. There also will be performances featuring Campbell and her successor.
"We're creating a recording artist from scratch," she said. "We're looking for somebody who's ambitious and a great performer and wants to say great things about the Army as a full-time gig."
Her successor also must be ready to work hard, Campbell said.
"I thought I was going to be a rock star, it's going to be so glamorous," she said. "It's not. It's a ton of work, but it's also cool that the Army would have an artist."
A typical day for the band, if they're performing at a high school, starts at 8 a.m. The band unloads its own instruments and equipment. Their set up takes about five hours, including setting up the music equipment, audio, video and lighting.
The concert typically kicks off at 1 p.m. and the band plays for about an hour before a meet-and-greet session.
Afterward, it takes about 90 minutes to tear down the set.
When the band gets back to the hotel, Campbell switches gears and spends the rest of the afternoon catching up on social media and logging in all the prospective recruits she met that day.
"The Army is spending a lot to bring people into the Army, so I manually put in every single entry, I e-mail every single one of them," she said. "You're talking anywhere from 300 to 500 people and giving that attention takes time."
Campbell will then send those who respond with interest in the Army to a local recruiter.
While she does that, the other soldiers on the team are calling schools, and making arrangements and travel plans.
"I want the Army to continue being great, so whatever I can do to show people the Army is an option for them, I'm going to do it," she said.
Campbell said she's not sure what she'll do after her final two years as the featured performer come to an end.
"I kind of want to keep it open," she said. "I've always been a little bit of a risk taker and dreamer, and I always said I'd stay in the Army until it wasn't fun anymore. This has been an incredible opportunity. What the Army has enabled me to do has been something that so many people would never think is possible. Who am I to walk away from something that's so good?"