After joining the U.S. Navy in 1999, a Carmichaels native has taken on a different note of authority.
Lt. Kelly Cartwright is the fleet bandmaster for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Pearl Harbor.
“My relationship with music has evolved over the years, making the transition from player to conductor, and now with nearly a decade as a Navy bandmaster, it continues to evolve,” Cartwright said in a news release distributed by the Navy Office of Community Outreach.
According to the release, Cartwright, who plays the oboe and saxophone, joined the Navy in 1999. In 2010, she started earning a commission through the Limited Duty Officer Program.
“Music has always been and will always be part of me,” said Cartwright. “It’s a lifelong pursuit you never finish because there is always more you can learn.”
Now as band master, Cartwright and the 42 members of the Pacific Fleet Band provide musical support for official Navy functions, both local and deployed outreach, morale and retention programs, and recruiting initiatives. They cover 100 million square miles with an average of 600 engagements a year.
“You name it, we play it,” Cartwright said in a statement. “We have the traditional ceremonial and marching ensembles you would expect from a military band, groups that play all varieties of popular music – everything from rock to K-Pop, a 40-piece wind ensemble, and also small groups that play jazz, classical, Broadway, and everything in between.”
Last year, Cartwright was stationed on the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy, which was deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2018. Pacific Partnership, which is in its 13th iteration, is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief-preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific.
According to a news release, the mission for Pacific Partnership is “to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific Region.”
Cartwright said the band makes an impact during missions like this.
“Internationally, music is a powerful tool that brings people together,” Cartwright said in a statement. “It may sound cliché, but music is truly an international language that allows us to understand one another without speaking a word.”
She said that while the band is often used as an outreach tool, to her, it’s much more. The sailors she’s served with and the people she’s connected with through music have made it a rewarding job.
“It’s how we honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, how we recognize our veterans’ service, and how we connect our Navy to the American public,” Cartwright said in the release.