I was one of the judges at the semi-finals round of the Voice of Pride competition which took place last night at the Round-Up. Twenty-four performances — 19 soloists and five duets — competed to enter the final round at the Rose Room next month. Ten soloists and three duets advanced after three hours of singing. And with seven judges, a policy of dropping the top and bottom scores to equalize the voting and a variety of tastes, you never know if the ones you liked most will advance. But for the most part, my favorites did. (I would only quibble with one or two taking more deserving performers’ space.)
Once again, Juliana Jeffrey did stunning work — she’s been in the top 3 for the past three years. There were other familiar faces (and voices) as well: Mel Arizpe, Robert Olivas and Christine Pradia — all of whom were in the top five in recent years — made it through. Greg Castillo, last year’s second runner-up, was part of the duet Present for the Future … with Juliana Jeffrey, pictured. Their group also advanced.
There were some new names as well, including Chae Studebaker (a sweet country balladeer voice), a woman named only Red (soulful R&B sound) and Joel Canavales (who started the show off right). This is the first year duets and groups are eligible, and two others to advance are called Classic Resurrection and Mi Diva Loca.
Here’s the complete list of finalists, in alphabetical order: Mel Arizpe; Joel Canales; Laura Carrizales; Melissa Hubenak; Juliana Jeffrey; Angie Landers; Robert Olivas; Christine Pradia; Red; Chae Studebaker, plus the duos Classic Resurrection, Mi Diva Loca and Present for the Future.
Finals will be Aug. 15 at the Rose Room.