Although members of the Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command work hard to defend the nation, some of its members also play hard to entertain the community.
In their off time, several members of SMDC/ARSTRAT play in local bands, churches and with friends to share their musical talents, let off a little steam and entertain music fans across the Tennessee Valley.
“I think I have always been a musician,” said Bobby Taylor, SMDC Command Safety deputy safety officer and drummer and vocalist with the band Juice. “I started playing the drums at 3 years old. There was always music playing in our house, and I was a rambunctious little boy, so my parents bought me a drum set to get out some of my energy.”
One of Taylor’s fellow band members is also an arranger and singer in the SMDC and Missile Defense Agency’s acapella group, the Missile Tones. The group is composed of SMDC and MDA personnel who sing for retirements, promotions and departures of people in both commands.
“I am not responsible for the beautiful gift I’ve been given, but I am responsible for what I do with it,” said Leonard Lee Adams Jr., Modeling and Simulations Branch, Decision Support Division, Capability Development Integration Directorate, Future Warfare Center extended air defense simulation international analyst and operations research systems analyst. “And what I do with it, I do with love. Love for people, love for life, love for celebration, love for reflection, love that can make you cry but then promises to wipes your tears away.”
Although not currently in a band, one SMDC employee has played in several bands throughout the years as a keyboard and piano player, a trumpet player and a bass player.
“I have, for as long as I can remember, felt that music is the glue that holds the soul together,” said Joseph Motley, Reagan Test Site program analyst. “I didn’t know what to call what I felt when I listened to music or even when I started to play. I know that it gave me a sense of calm when listening or playing, and growing up in Detroit, you look for all the calm you can get.”
Motley wants to remind people to never let anything or anyone tell them they cannot succeed at music, even if that person is them.
“I would like to say to anyone out there who has never played an instrument and who feels that it is ‘too late to start,’ that it is never too late,” Motley said. “There is no defined age to pick up something new, and music is one of those things. It is never too late to read a novel, or to exercise, or to try new things. Music is an extension of who you are, so how can it be too late to expand yourself?”
Another SMDC employee plays in the reggae band Kush and has played in local venues and musical festivals, too. Jimmie Sherode, SMDC G-8 budget analyst, is one of three lead vocalists and plays the congas in the band.
“I grew up with a curiosity of Caribbean music, of which I attribute to my father’s Dominican roots,” said Sherode, who goes by the stage name Remington Steele or Remi in the band. “I soon began playing congas at my church as a teen. The very first band I joined was a reggae band called the Reggae Mystics, which was made up of good friends who knew I had love for reggae and that I played congas.
“I’ve played with local musician Ken Watters, and I’ve performed with reggae artist Warrior King,” Sherode said. “Kush was the opening act for a big reggae concert at the Von Braun for Maxi Priest and Beres Hammond, both of whom I had the privilege of meeting. I also had the opportunity to meet old school reggae artist Everton Blender at his concert in Birmingham.
“I don’t consider myself a singer, but music is very important to me. Performing on stage, I love being able to share a piece of how music makes me feel with the audience.”
Sherode and Kush are scheduled to perform at Burritt on the Mountain, July 3 at 6 p.m.