TWO for the money

Solo Voice of Pride vets Angie Landers and Robert Olivas finally hit their stride as a team

BRIDESMAIDS NO MORE | Landers and Olivas found two really is better than one, as their duo Spare Parts won the Voice of Pride group competition. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Always bridesmaids, never brides: That has been the case for Voice of Pride veterans Angie Landers and Robert Olivas. Frequent competitors in the annual “Oak Lawn Idol” competition, they’ve never taken the top prize.

So of the many magical moments at this year’s finale — Kristen Phillips belting out Tina Turner, Dru Rivera’s winning take on Aerosmith, Steven Patterson’s charming stage presence in both solo and group competitions — none was perhaps more special than the announcement of Spare Parts as the best duo. The flood of emotions displayed by Landers and Olivas touched everyone.

“This was very important to us. It was so awesome,” Olivas says a few days after winning. “We really did work hard to represent well and I still can’t unscrew my smile.”

“It just worked out great,” Landers adds. “I think we know each other so well now that I don’t think we could have been as before. It’s like a marriage but not a marriage.”

As M.C. Richard Curtin announced them as the winners, Landers hopped with excitement while Olivas stood with a look of complete disbelief. The $2,500 in prize money was barely on their minds; after years as also-rans, they finally walked away winners.

As a team, they pulled out that little extra in each other. Their first number was a powerhouse, singing Jason Aldean’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” which killed the crowed with both drama and chemistry.

“After that song, I wasn’t worried about winning,” Landers says. “We knew our next song well and it was something nobody would expect from us.”

With rousing applause, Landers’ confidence was well justified. But at the very end, they tripped up the lyrics. Although they laughed it off onstage, backstage was another story.

“We didn’t wanna go down in books being balladeers,” Olivas says on picking the song. “We had two songs in which we could show our versatility.”

“I was afraid it would come off cheesy, but it was more about our stage personalities and that we could entertain you outside of putting you to sleep,” Landers says. “But when we missed the vocals, I knew we had just given it away. I hoped the judges surely wouldn’t take points away for that but I was feeling the panic.”

The bobble was only that, and it added charm to their performance. Now, Spare Parts prepares for their first Pride performance together at the Lee Park festival.

The way Landers and Olivas interact, you’d think they had known each other for years. They act like brother and sister or even a very happy husband and wife. Truth is, they just met in 2008 during the VOP competition and soon started singing karaoke together. Their voices harmonize, so pairing up made sense. All that remained was the question of what to call themselves.

“We wanted to do something with my knee replacement and the hip replacement that he needs,” Landers says, so they started a poll to name the group on Facebook.

“If it hadn’t been for all that stuff, we would have had our name!” says Olivas.

Both are strong soloists with a solid presence and great pipes. Together, they strike a chord that tends to balance both their strengths. Now they get to show it off much more.

“We want to do something more with the title and take it above and beyond what any other winner has before,” Olivas says. “I think that it’s created a strong environment of competition that people are so dedicated to it and passionate about it. I think Voice of Pride can be a great thing.”

With each competition comes a rush of controversy in the community, members of which comment publicly (and harshly) about the results online. Landers hopes she and Olivas rise above that, even though both have been on the receiving end of mean barbs.

“Sometimes the hype and money gets in the way of what it’s really about,” she says. “I think that negative energy going around could be harnessed and focused for the better rather than knocking down contestants. Voice of Pride is a great springboard for Pride.”

For the team, the title is also a privilege, reflected well by last year’s solo winner Mel Arizpe, who also won with her partner in the group category.

“I am honored to be an advocate,” Olivas says. “Mel was a great advocate; she’s out there, she’s doing benefits. The way it should be done.”

The victory means that next year, they are frontrunners in group and solos… well, not necessarily. “I plan to [compete],” Olivas says, but Landers doesn’t know yet. “It wouldn’t be because I didn’t win; I’m just not sure right now,” she says.

Until that decision, Spare Parts will perform at Pride and then work to pull a band in and continue to book gigs around DFW and make their own name for themselves.

“Angie and I have every intention of performing for fundraisers and we’ve been approached by some venues already,” Olivas says. “I feel like we have the talent to do that. And maybe even get discovered.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

A star is born

MyStudio can make a singer out of anyone — even a couch potato

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

If Lindsay Lohan can piss away a career of fame with no talent, then I should be able to do just the opposite, right? Forget going through the casting couches and reality TV shows to make my mark on Hollywood — I’m hitting up

MyStudio for my break. Because if I can whip out a music video for 20 bucks and be the next big thing, well, then hot damn. Grammy here I come.

The plan is to use modern technology found at the mall to make headway into becoming a fame monster. That means a trip to Grapevine Mills and the new MyStudio HD recording studios. I decided a music video would be right up my alley, considering my singing chops are minimal and I look about as good on video as a mug shot. But I’m determined to bust out some karaoke on some Springsteen in high def brilliance.

Without confidence beyond my solo car concerts, I figured vocalizing and performing tips would be crucial, so I sought advice from Voice of Pride finalists Angie Landers and Robert Olivas. As perennial contestants in the local singing competition, they were fresh from this year’s cycle and flush with suggestions.

“If I’m gonna do a studio song, I need to feel and connect with it,” Landers says. “A big mistake is just not being prepared.”

Not a problem. Especially since MyStudio provides thousands of licensed karaoke tracks, I can just read the words. Olivas echoes Landers.

“I don’t sing it unless I feel it.  First, it has to be within your heart, it has little to do with the vocal cords.”

Sweet! Preparation and great singing voice can be checked off the list. Clearly, this is going to be easier than I thought. I can see the VMA already on my mantle; I can even imagine Kanye ruining my moment.

MyStudio isn’t just for creating karaoke vids. In fact, it’s serious stuff. Green-screen technology, song catalogs, professional studio recording and high def video lets anyone create quality looking work needed for auditions, resumes, modeling, comedy, personal fun — even dating.

And it’s a bargain compared to going through the usual avenues. Up to five minutes sets you back $20. Sure, you might need more to get the results you want, but if you can wrap a video in half an hour, you’ve probably spent way less than forking greenbacks over to a production company.

Landers wants to check my voice out so she leads me through a rendition of “Proud Mary.” After politely not cringing (personally, I’d say I killed it), she had an idea of my vocal range.

“You’re voice isn’t too bad. Just don’t take on anything too challenging,” she says. So, no Celine? “That would be a negative, but if you sang ‘Proud Mary’ you could begin with your slow passionate self and then come out like a diva.”

This is not lost on me. But if I go Tina Turner on the mike, I’ll need some help, and not by another singer. Olivas knows what I mean.

“Liquid courage helps,” he says. “First, know that alcohol can alter your tone and make you flat or sharp. Consider your voice a motor skill. But I have a tradition of taking a shot of tequila before going on.”

And who am I not to respect tradition? If it’s gonna push me through to music glory, I’ll drink whatever I need. Although, I can understand Lindsey’s approach better now.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens