By Staff Sgt. Kyle Richardson
41st Fires Brigade public affairs
The conga drums pounded in the background, the brass instruments wailed in the foreground, and the electric piano laid out the rhythmic patterns for the 1st Cavalry Division Band's new salsa group, Los Cavalleros.
As the group entered into its third week of practice in preparation of its opening show last weekend at the Killeen Civic Center for Hispanic Heritage Month, the 13-man group extended a hand to its final member, Pfc. Amarilys Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican native serving with the 67th Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment.
"I'm honored to have received a chance like this to perform with this group," Rodriguez said. "I feel like this is a great accomplishment for me and overall a big opportunity to expand my career."
Rodriguez said singing comes naturally to her since she's been singing from her childhood, throughout high school and into her adult years as a civilian.
With just under two years in the Army, Rodriguez is awaiting orders detaching her from the 41st Fires Brigade and reassigning her to the 1st Cavalry Division band as a lead singer for Los Cavalleros.
"Pfc. Rodriguez has shown a good amount of talent and motivation given the short amount of time we have had to prepare for the show," said Staff Sgt. Robert Olivarri, the group's leader. "I think she's a good match with the group."
Until Rodriguez receives her orders assigning her to the band, she's working double roles in order to prepare for the upcoming show as well as helping the 67th FSC with daily duties.
"(Rodriguez) has the full support from her chain of command," Sgt. Rafael Moyeno, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, an orderly room operations noncommissioned officer for the 67th Forward Support Company. "It's hard to let her go, we really didn't want to let her leave but, I sat down with the command and we came to conclusion that we didn't want to stand in the way of her career and dreams."
Members of the salsa band perform popular songs like "Celos" by Marc Anthony, "Fabricando Fantasias" by Tito Nieves, "No Quiera Na'regalal" by Giberto Santa Rosa and several hit songs from Elvis Crespo. Los Cavalleros is a mixed-nationality band playing all genres of music, new and old, but mostly salsa, mamba and merengue. The name of the group takes after the Spanish word "caballeros," meaning gentlemen; however, the "b" was replaced with a "v" in honor of the 1st Cavalry Division.