New Orleans is a city well-known for its rich cultural heritage. One place in particular that draws many is the National World War II Museum. On top of its immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences, and collection of artifacts and oral histories, the National World War II Museum employs a group of women known as the Victory Belles. The Belles began in 2009 by visiting VA homes and paying homage to our brave veterans. They perform as trios, now singing the music of the 1940s at both the museum and around the world.
For alumni and current students of the College of Music and Media, the Victory Belles provides an alternative avenue to perform as well as a platform to honor World War II veterans. Current Loyola Theatre Arts & Dance Senior Haley Nicole Taylor has been employed by the Belles since her Sophomore year of college. The youngest Victory Belle, Taylor was offered a position in an unconventional way. “I jumped at this opportunity to compete in the National WWII Museum’s Stage Door Idol, not only because I wanted to be seen by the Victory Belles' director, but because I have always had an old soul and soft spot when it comes to war-time music and history” said Taylor. Though she did not win, the director approached her afterwards and wanted her to be a Victory Belle. “Because of this statement, I won in my book!” Taylor remarked. Unfortunately, she did not meet the age requirement at that time. Belles must be 21 and older. However, just a few months later, Taylor became an exception to that rule and became the youngest Victory Belle after auditioning.
For Taylor, this isn’t just another job. “Being a Victory Belle and representing the National WWII Museum is the most rewarding job that I could possibly imagine” she said. “Aside from the glitz and glam of dancing and singing in three-part harmony, we have the immense privilege of performing for WWII veterans and building relationships with them.” To Taylor, this honor means just as much as getting the chance to perform.
At the end of each performance, the Victory Belles give veterans a tradition red-lipped kiss on the cheek. “They light up like they're 18 years old again.” This is the Belles way of lighting up their lives and trying to bring back the good times.
The Victory Belles hold a special place in her heart. Her father, Wayne Taylor, is a combat infantry Gulf War veteran. “I am proud to give back to my father and all other veterans in song. It's the least I can do!” said Taylor.
The Victory Belles employs the following Loyola University New Orleans graduates: Charis Gullage, Dody Piper, Emily Gyan Rothlisberger, Jessica Mixon, Allison Hymel, Rachel Looney, Linden Uter, Chase Kamata, Kate Abreo, and Cristina Perez Edmunds.