Flautist Staff Sergeant has talent

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Mathew C. Cooley, Public Affairs Officer, 13th SC(E)

Houston, Texas —High-pitched notes, rapidly and smoothly played, filled the hallway as the flautist’s fingers skillfully danced along the flute’s keys. A crowd which only moments before noisily bustled about, now silently watched and swayed to the sound of jazz.

Staff Sgt. Richard Hegens Jr., a 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) transportation platoon sergeant stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, warmed up his flute while waiting in line with his family and thousands of others at Reliant Stadium here Feb. 12 to audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

“To me, the music is a message from me – from God through me,” Hegens said. Hegens, his wife Felicia Locklin-Hegens, and son DeMarcus Hegens, said they were certain.

The Washington native said he started playing the flute at 9 when his church began exposing the children in the congregation to various instruments to see if there was one they would like to learn. Hegens began with the piano but finally settled on the flute.

Anthony Thomas, a flute player at his church, gave the young Hegens a mouth piece to practice with and free lessons in the church’s coat room, Hegens said. He recalled blowing through the mouth piece during services before he knew how to play. “I was just blowing away making a whole lot of noise,” he said laughing.

After learning to play gospel music at his church, Hegens said the jazz flute sounds of Hubert Laws, Bobbi Humphrey, and Herbie Mann caught his attention and began shaping his own personal style.

“I used to buy their albums and listened to them before I started playing,” he explained. “I created my own style.”

Hegens said his style is a mix of jazz and gospel meant to glorify God. “Your sound is an expression of you. Anybody can just play the music but it’s something else when the music becomes a part of you,” Hegens said of his style. “I would describe it as a smooth, anointing melody.”

Hegens played with gospel group Great Change before going from the National Guard to the active duty Army at 24. In 2010 he finished recording an album with The Anointed Ones, “Journey to the Top Begins,” produced by Rising Sun Studios. Recently, Hegens opened for jazz artists Kyle Turner, Michael Ward, and Tom Browne at Killeen, Texas’ Jazz Birthday Bash.

“We all enjoy hearing it,” Hegens’ wife said, explaining how her husband played in each of the churches they attended as the family moved from post to post.

Hegens will find out if he made it onto “America’s Got Talent” after the company reviews his and thousands of others’ audition tapes. If chosen, he will return to Houston to compete on the show in April.

Hegens hopes that the show will launch his career and Mode-Kay Productions, his production company.

“After we win the ‘Americas Got Talent’ then we can flourish more,” Hegens said, “Just waiting for a phone call now.”

 

news photoStaff Sgt. Richard Hegens Jr., Washington native and a 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) transportation platoon sergeant stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, warms up his flute while waiting with his family and thousands of others at Reliant Stadium here Feb. 12 to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoStaff Sgt. Richard Hegens Jr., Washington native and a 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) transportation platoon sergeant stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, warms up his flute while waiting with his family and thousands of others at Reliant Stadium here Feb. 12 to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” (Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)