Saturday, September 22, 2007

Son's Iraq duty spurs mom's return to singing

DELTONA -- Critical care nurse Micheleann Salvo-Kravchak missed her son's recent phone call from Iraq -- because she isn't allowed to use her cell phone while on the job at Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Her Army artillery soldier son, Spc. Kevin F. Kravchak, has been over there for 15 months.

She says the emotional drain has been rough -- much rougher than giving up a singing career 25 years ago to raise Kevin and his twin brother, Justin.

"I grew up in Seaside Heights, N.J., and I sang professionally all over the Jersey shore in nightclubs since I was 18 -- the drinking age in New Jersey -- until I was pregnant with my sons," Salvo-Kravchak says. "My upbringing led me to believe it would be better not doing that while they were growing up. I don't regret it."

Now, with one son in Iraq, at 52, she says she found some comfort in sharing her emotions online with other military moms. But a real catharsis for the Deltona woman has come from a resurgence in her singing career -- because of a song she recorded for her son that she put on her page and on the video Web site

"We have a network of moms from all over the country. We support one another, but the sad thing is, it seems every week one more mom will get online and say, 'My son isn't coming home,' and all of us sob like that child is ours," Salvo-Kravchak said. "Then I saw a picture of one mother with her soldier son, and she had recorded this song."

The song, "So Brave," was previously co-written and recorded by another soldier's mom, Angela Lashley, a Nashville songwriter and recording artist.

Lashley, 49, says she had toured with a band since age 16 and had given up her career at 22 after having her first child, but was trying to get back to songwriting and singing when she got the inspiration for her song.

"My son, Jonathan, who was in college called us one day to say that he was feeling compelled to serve in the military," Lashley says. "After he hung up the phone, there was an eerie silence, but then I said, 'When did he become so brave?' "

She sat at the piano and started the lyrics for the song that has evolved into a sort of anthem for military moms.

"Michele (Salvo-Kravchak) e-mailed me. She had a son and saw the songs posted on my Web sites," says Lashley, whose son now is an Army specialist serving in Iraq.

Salvo-Kravchak asked Lashley for permission to record "So Brave" for her own son.

"The song gave me chills," Salvo-Kravchak says. "She (Lashley) was very gracious about it. Then I started thinking it would be nice if we had a video to go along with this. Justin (Kevin's twin) just graduated from High Tech Institute (in Orlando) and pieced the video together."

Her son Kevin's reaction was "Wow," she says, but then came other reactions she didn't expect when she put it on YouTube.

"I had developed a military online support system and made so many contacts, that every week another mother would get online and ask, 'When are you going to release this?' " she says.

Then came a call from a national record producer. She began having discussions about a recording label and an album. She is not yet at liberty to share details, but she has been working on a CD at the recording studio at Deltona Arts & Historical Center, with the help of 25-year veteran recording producer Frank Starchak.

"She's a natural, and maybe she didn't expect this at this time in her life," Starchak says. "But the song seems to have a purpose. Michele doesn't make this about herself but about getting the (CD) done and helping people heal."

Salvo-Kravchak expects to complete an eight-song CD this month.

"I don't know where this all came from, but the important thing is the meaning behind the song for all the moms and dads whose sons and daughters are over there," she says.

Link to Micheleann Salvo-Kravchak at and at Find Angela Lashley's version of "So Brave" at


Michele is one of our Myspace friends.

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