Meet CAMMO Co-Founder and Executive Director Cathie Lechareas

Voices of Service perform on America's Got Talent.

In collaboration with the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s Veterans and the Arts Initiative, the Hylton is excited to welcome the Center for American Military Music Opportunities (CAMMO) in CAMMO Voices (5/13). This celebratory concert honoring Servicemembers and their families will feature a talented lineup of military-connected artists spanning our nation’s Armed Forces. We sat down with CAMMO Co-Founder and Executive Director Cathie Lechareas to learn more about the organization, and what to expect at their Hylton musical performance.

Hylton Center (HC): There are five unique groups performing on the CAMMO Voices concert. What makes each one special?

Cathie Lechareas (CL): Each group has something unique about them. At Eaze is composed of Veterans and Servicemembers from each branch of our nation's Armed Forces. You may have seen them at Prince Harry's Invictus Games, behind Voices of Service (VOS) on America's Got Talent, and at many corporate and sporting events.

Tommy Stanley is a U.S. Navy Veteran, singer/songwriter, and video producer. We started working together in 2008. He was a finalist on Nashville Star, performed at Fleet Week, and at corporate and private events. Recently, he released his first single "Let Me In" in 2023.

The American Military Spouses Choir has given “the force behind the force” a voice, [giving voice to military spouses through music]. They are married to active duty and retired Servicemembers across five branches of the military, and have been under the direction of U.S. Army Veteran Joey Beebe since the early days. On America’s Got Talent they placed in the finals, and have performed for both corporate and public events, with many television appearances as well.

Donnie Isaacs is a storyteller and singer/songwriter with a vintage country sound. We met when he was recovering at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in 2016. One of his first experiences with us was playing the drums at Invictus Games. He has performed at many events and for Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), has released an EP, and several singles.

Voices of Service (VOS) started singing together in 2012, and the chemistry that they have comes through every time they take the stage. All are retired U.S. Army Veterans. In 2019, they placed in the top five on America’s Got Talent. On the show, they were very open about invisible scars and the struggle of Servicemembers, Veterans, families, and people from all walks of life. Each member of VOS is a powerful singer. Collectively, they are magic.

And, our emcee for the evening is U.S. Army retiree Dewayne White, who draws on his military experience and life through comedy. He’s also an instructor for the Armed Services Arts Partnership's standup comedy bootcamp.

HC: Please tell us a little bit about CAMMO’s beginnings—what inspired you to co-found the organization?

CL: We first started when I wanted to find a companion alternative to just using medication for mental health issues. Music was something that I related to. When I needed a moment, there was nothing like putting the top down on the car, driving, and listening to classic rock. From this beginning we grew to not only providing music at events, but groups, singers, songwriting, peer-to-peer mentoring, life coaching, and now Safe House Entertainment for music education and production.

HC: Why does music have such healing benefits?

CL: Music touches all parts of the mind, body, and soul. It can slow down a racing mind, your heartbeat, and alter your mood, which can influence behavior. Music can reduce your stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical pain by releasing endorphins. Music offers a creative and accessible way of expressing feelings and processing experiences. Music is for every stage of life, from a preemie baby to an elder struggling with Alzheimer’s.

HC: What are some of the most impactful national and international events that vocalists from CAMMO have participated in over the years?

CL: There are several that come to mind: Invictus Games, the Kennedy Center, America’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent: The Champions, The Kelly Clarkson Show, The Queen Latifah Show, and Lincoln Center working with the band Kodaline and the Dublin Gospel Choir.

HC: What excites you about working with the Hylton Center and our Veterans and the Arts Initiative?

CL: As a Veteran, I like seeing programs for Veterans that are meaningful and provide an opportunity to learn something new. We have a long relationship with the Hylton Center and the Veterans and the Arts Initiative, and love working with staff and guests. It’s a bonus to be able to showcase five groups on May 13, and it will be the highlight of my year. I’ll be the one in the back crying, knowing how far they’ve come.

Don’t miss CAMMO Voices at the Hylton Center on May 13. Tickets are on sale now and FREE for Veterans and Servicemembers with ID (up to two tickets each). Free tickets are only available in person at the Hylton Center Ticket Office.