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Spotsylvania sisters Hannah Reed and Katie Schultz compete on ‘America’s Got Talent’

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Two Spotsylvania County natives will sing their hearts out on national television today with the American Military Spouses Choir, currently competing in the semifinal rounds of the NBC television show “America’s Got Talent.”

Hannah Reed and Katie Schultz, sisters and fellow military spouses, have been members of the choir for just over a year. The only two girls among six children, they said they’ve always been close.

“I joined last summer when they were adding some members,” Schultz said. “Hannah called me to tell me about it.”

Reed, a Chancellor High graduate, was a music major in college, but put her passion on hold until recently. Her husband, Caleb, is in the Marine Corps.

Between having the opportunity to sing in front of a national audience and representing military spouses all over, Reed said that the whole experience is “kind of crazy.”

“It’s just not something I ever thought I would do. I don’t know how to put it really,” she said. “It’s overwhelming at times to think that this is really happening. It’s unreal.”

The American Military Spouses Choir, part of the Center for American Military Music Opportunities, formed in spring 2012 as an act in the David Foster and Friends Spring Gala. The 50 women in the choir are spouses of active-duty service members.

The choir swept through their audition with a rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and continued in their second performance with a version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”

Only 38 members of the choir will be seen on the reality TV competition due to strict scheduling requirements.

“You had to commit to be at every portion of the show,” Reed said.

During the week, that meant time spent every day rehearsing selected songs and choreography.

That also meant coordinating their busy schedules around moving to new homes, as both women did with their Marine husbands and children over the summer.

“We started moving April 1. Waiting for on-base housing and with things going on with the choir,” Schultz said. “We have just gotten settled in our house on base this past week.”

Schultz’s husband, J.T., is also a Marine. He was originally introduced to her through Reed’s husband, who is a close college friend.

For these families, the past few months on the show have really provided an experience that their community has been able to rally behind.

“We both still have the support of our husbands,” she said. “They’re really very excited just to have us have this opportunity and to be able to support us.”

Their mother, Krystal Dowell, said music has been a part of the girls’ lives since their childhood involvement with the choir at New Life in Christ Church in Spotsylvania.

“My husband and I are not musically inclined,” Dowell said, “and we are just really thankful that the church has fostered that.”

The Dowells are providing more than moral support for their daughters, who are three years apart.

In fact, all of the families have rallied to provide round-the-clock care for the six children.

Dowell said that with Skype and Facebook, staying in touch is much easier for everyone.

“We call it AGT camp,” Reed joked. “Thankfully, because Fredericksburg is my hometown, everyone has really stepped up to take care of the kids in our absence.”

Schultz said that it’s been great fun for the kids to see the mothers on TV.

Most of all, though, it’s been fun for the sisters to experience this opportunity together.

“We’re both really excited to share this opportunity,” Schultz said. “It’s great to be able to hang out in New York and just go through every step.”

The American Military Spouses Choir will perform live tonight on “America’s Got Talent,” which airs at 9 p.m. on NBC. The results of their performance will be released during Wednesday’s show.

Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5444