(COLORADO SPRINGS) — A Colorado Springs native who has served in the Navy for 11 years was named the United States Navy Band’s 2022 Sailor of the Year.
The award distinguishes 37-year-old Musician 1st Class (MU1) Adele Demi from 94 competitive peers of equal rank across the command. The U.S. Navy Band is the premier musical organization of the U.S. Navy, serving at the pleasure of the President of the United States.
“It’s a really incredible honor because every single person in my command is so talented and dedicated and hardworking,” said Demi. “Honestly can’t believe that I was selected.”
In addition to her primary duty, she conducted the Ceremonial Band on NBC’s Today Show during a broadcast highlighting women in the military.
Demi also led a seven-member audition team for a national talent search that successfully filled 17 crucial billet vacancies. Additionally, she served as an enlisted conductor for the Concert Band on six national tours.
Recognized for her leadership ability, military qualifications, and technical expertise, Demi was selected for a commission as a limited duty officer on Friday, Feb. 17. She will commission as a Navy bandmaster on Oct. 2, one of nearly 30 in the entire U.S. Navy.
Growing up only a stone’s throw away from Garden of the Gods – a National Natural Landmark of Colorado Springs – Demi graduated from Coronado High School in 2003. She still says Colorado Springs is “one of [her] absolute favorite places in the whole world.”
Demi explains her love of music came from her parents.
“My dad is a self-taught bluegrass musician, so I grew up with him singing and playing banjo around the house,” says Demi. “And my mom’s not technically a musician, but she has supported me through thick and thin with it, and I owe them both a debt of gratitude for helping me become the musician that I am.”
As for choosing an instrument, Demi likes to say, “the universe chose it for me.”
Born to be a musician, the universe helped create the start for Demi’s future even before her birth, beginning with her mother.
“When my mom was young, she got flute and clarinet mixed up,” states Demi. “She told my grandma, ‘I want to play clarinet.'”
Demi’s grandmother who was an ‘avid garage seller’ would thrift a clarinet for her daughter who actually wanted to play the flute.
“[Demi’s mother] really hated the clarinet so that thing went under the bed,” says Demi. “Eventually, I came along and found it and was immediately taken. I didn’t ever even try any other instruments. I just pulled it out and I was like, this is the thing for me.”
Demi included, “I don’t know what I would have done if that wouldn’t have happened. My whole life trajectory would have been completely different.”
As a young girl, Demi would grow her talents through the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association. Eventually, she would attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado to study under one of the top three best clarinet professors in the country, according to Demi.
Demi would graduate with a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music in clarinet performance from UNC. She joined the United States Navy Band in 2012 at the age of 27 as an E-flat clarinetist following the completion of basic training.
The decision to enlist in the Navy came from wanting a stable and fulfilling career in music, according to Demi.
“It gives me a purpose that I really wouldn’t otherwise have. I’m a part of something that’s way bigger than myself. I am one small part of an incredible organization that works to keep our nation safe and free,” Demi explains.
After an incredibly competitive audition process that filtered through 60 to 70 applicants, Demi would never forget the day she was notified of her acceptance.
“I was over the moon, Demi exclaimed. “It’s definitely in the top moments of my whole life. I had always dreamed of winning a professional job as a musician.”
Click the link above for more information on the U.S. Navy Band and to read more about how Demi continues to share her love of music.