Arizpe wins individual title, teams with real-life partner to earn group award at Voice of Pride

Mel Arizpe, a frequent bridesmaid at Voice of Pride, made up for lost ground this year by winning overall and as part of the duo Mi Diva Loca, which one the inaugural “group” award.

But wait, it gets more interesting.

Arizpe’s singing partner in Mi Diva Loca, Laura Carrizales, came in second place. And Arizpe and Carrizales are a couple in real-life as well. Arizpe gets to fly to Manchester, England, later this month to partake in that city’s Pride celebration, and will perform at Lee Park following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade next month.

Rounding out the top five were Juliana Jeffrey, Robert Olivas and Angie Landers. You can see footage from some of the performances in our video section here. Congrats to everybody!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Voice of Pride finalists selected at Round-Up

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.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones