Blue Steel vocalist inspires with song

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
One of Tech. Sgt. Julie Bradley's favorite aspects of performing in the Academy Band's rock group, "Blue Steel" is the opportunity to connect with the nation's youth, particularly young girls.

A devoted military wife, mother of two and noncommissioned officer in-charge of the band, Bradley has performed live 1,326 times for nearly 8 million military and civilian audience members across the country. If she's influenced even just one girl in her Air Force career, she will feel like she has done her job, she said.

"They are so impressionable and need positive role models," Bradley said. "After every concert I will have mothers and daughters asking me how to join the Air Force, or 'How can I do what you do?"

Bradley joined the Academy band after she enlisted with the Air Force in 1999. She became a member of Blue Steel in 2000. She's also the NCO in charge of the Academy Band's video production team, which has her overseeing the distribution of band-produced videos, and plays the marching bells in the Academy Marching Band.

"One of the most enjoyable things about being in the band is the opportunity to be an ambassador for the Academy and Air Force," Bradley said. "Wherever we perform, the influence that the band has is felt through the emotional impact of music. We are constantly in the public eye and bring the highest level of professionalism to our mission."

Blue Steel has six members and features drums, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, an audio engineer and vocalist Bradley. They perform regularly for cadets, including at the Academy Ring Dance, the July 4th performance for basic cadets and National Character and Leadership Symposium.

"We support not only cadet events but also other military events at the Academy and Air Force Space Command," Bradley said. "One of the most important missions we have is touring nationally in support of Air Force Academy recruiting. Those tours allow us to perform public concerts for people of all ages and concerts at high schools for a very specific age demographic."

Blue Steel has featured female vocalists in the past but Academy Band manager Chief Master Sgt. John Gohl said Bradley is one of the most versatile singers the band has ever seen.

"She is equally talented and accomplished as a country singer," Gohl said. "When she performed recently on ESPN SportsNation and the Fox and Friends morning show, she demonstrated excellence and brought the Academy message to (more than) four million Americans."

Bradley has been deployed to Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Southwest Asia. She spent two years in the country band, "Wild Blue Country," from 2008-2010 before returning to Blue Steel, and was recently recognized in her unit as the 2012 Public Affairs Musician of the Year.

Bradley said she is inspired everyday by women who successfully balance career and family, such as distinguished leaders at the Academy.

"Brig. Gen. (Dana) Born definitely comes to mind as a female leader who has successfully balanced her career with being a mom and wife," Bradley said. "Col. (Tamra) Rank is also a fantastic role model who has made a lasting impression on me, and Mrs. (Paula) Gould is also someone I really admire."

Bradley is well aware that February is Women's History Month and hopes all Academy members seize every opportunity to recognize those women who have made profound impact on our nation and ultimately the world, she said.

"The Air Force Academy is regarded as a leading educational institution," Bradley said. "Female graduates continue to use their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions. Our community enthusiastically supports the continuation of the Academy hosting events for Women's History Month."