WASHINGTON - Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear, native of Elk Garden, will participate in former President George H. W. Bush's State Funeral on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Washington National Cathedral on behalf of “The President's Own” United States Marine Band.

WASHINGTON - Master Sgt. Kevin Bennear, native of Elk Garden, will participate in former President George H. W. Bush’s State Funeral on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Washington National Cathedral on behalf of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band.

He will sing with the Armed Forces chorus, and also performed with the chorus at President Gerald Ford’s funeral service in January 2007 at the Cathedral.

Baritone vocalist and concert moderator Master Sergeant Kevin Bennear joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in January 2000, becoming the third featured vocal soloist since the position was established in 1955.

Master Sgt. Bennear began his musical instruction at age 9. After graduating in 1990 from Elk Garden High School in Elk Garden, he attended Potomac State College in Keyser, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music in 1996 from West Virginia University (WVU) in Morgantown, where he studied with Peter Lightfoot. In 1999, he earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee (UT), in Knoxville, where he studied with George Bitzas.  

Master Sgt. Bennear has performed with the UT Opera Theater, WVU Opera Theater, Theatre West Virginia, and the Knoxville Opera Company, where he played the role of Sharpless in Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with noted soprano Stella Zimbalis of the Metropolitan Opera. He also taught voice as a graduate teaching assistant at UT.

President Bush’s State Funeral marks the 14th such event for which “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band or Marine Chamber Orchestra has performed. “The President’s Own” was present for the State Funerals of former Presidents Gerald Ford in 2007, Ronald Reagan in 2004, Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1969, Herbert Hoover in 1964, John F. Kennedy in 1963, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, William Howard Taft in 1930, William McKinley in 1901, Ulysses S. Grant in 1885, James Garfield in 1881, Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Zachary Taylor in 1850, and John Quincy Adams in 1848.

“We have been fortunate to have had wonderful moments with every President we serve, but President and Mrs. Bush’s gratitude for our Marines and for the special music we provide in The People’s House was especially warm and always engaging,” said “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band Director Col. Jason K. Fettig.

“He never missed an opportunity to connect with those around him and thank them for their contributions, and the men and women in the band who got to know President Bush both during his administration and in the many years beyond will always remember his ever-present appreciation and admiration for all those who served our nation alongside him.”