Contestants’ talent, professional demeanor make judges’ decision a difficult one at semi-final show
Twelve singers are heading to Voice of Pride 2006′s final talent competition at the Rose Room on Aug. 6.
The 12 men and women were chosen during a competition at the Round-Up Saloon on July 9. They are Mel Arizpe, Blake Askew, Matt Brewer, Ashley Henry, Jason Huff, Kelly Jarvis, Deborah Johnson, Craig Johnston, Bradley Justice, Tosha Longsworth, Juan Manuel Rodriguez and Tammi Rowley.
Huff, Longsworth, Justice and Henry advanced to the final during last year’s event but lost to Lori McCrackin, the 2005 winner.
Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said the semi-final show for the three-year-old event presented a challenge for the judges because the contestants were so professional.
“The talent definitely was ratcheted up a couple of notches this year,” Doughman said. “It was tough narrowing it down.”
Thirty contestants who won at preliminary competitions at Tavern Guild member nightclubs in June performed during the semi-finals, held at the Round-Up Saloon.
The judges were Terry Dobson of Theater 3, Charles Santos of Titus, Darren LaPorte of The Bone, Bev Stephenson, a singer and actress, and Gary Floyd, a singer and pianist.
Tim Seelig, artistic director of the Turtle Creek Chorale, coordinated the judging.
“Everybody was connected to the industry in a significant way,” Doughman said.
Doughman predicted that the final show will be as entertaining for the audience as it will be exciting for the contestants.
This year, the event will be webcast live on oaklawn.tv.
“It’s going to be very exciting to have that happening,” Doughman said, adding that Voice of Pride is gaining in popularity and recognition.
“We’re starting to get more and more attention, not only for the event but for some of the performers,” Doughman said. “We’ve just gotten to semi-finals, and I’ve already had multiple requests from groups for performances.”
Groups such as LifeWalk are interested in having some of the singers perform at their functions, Doughman said.
“A lot of different people are going to get some more work out of this, which only continues to feed and drive the venue if people know that there is actually some financial future connected to being involved,” Doughman said.
The winner of the final will receive a $3,000 cash prize, ride in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 17 and perform at the rally in Robert E. Lee Park following the parade. The second- and third-place winners will also ride in the parade and perform at the rally.
Voice of Pride is presented by the Dallas Tavern Guild to highlight the traditional gay Pride month of June and lead up to the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September.
For information about Voice of Pride, visit www.dallastavernguild.org/voiceofpride.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 14, 2006.