NO LIP-SYNCHING FOR YOUR LIFE | Voice of Pride’s top 12 will need to follow new rules in ’10. (Photo courtesy David Berryman)

Tavern Guild tweaks rules for Oak Lawn singing competition, adds primo prize

As Voice of Pride is about to get underway for its seventh year, the Dallas Tavern Guild is shaking things up — and upping the ante. As Heidi Klum might say, one singer will be in … a plane headed to England. And for the first time, a group will take a trophy.

Guild executive director Michael Doughman says VOP needed a shot in the arm.

"We thought we’d freshen it up and create additional opportunities," he says. "This will make the competition better."

The Tavern Guild, which sponsors the VOP competition every year among its member clubs and bars, polled singers from previous contests their interest in creating a group category; they realized the interest was there.

Duos, trios and quartets are eligible to participate. Groups can sing a capella or to a recorded track, but cannot sing with musical instrument accompaniment. The latter was simply a logistics issue.

"Nine of the 18 clubs have the capability of hosting groups, but not to set up a situation to satisfy with speakers and instruments," Doughman says.

This is a pilot effort —Doughman says if it doesn’t warrant enough support or the extra time and effort, Voice of Pride will scale back to solos. The Guild just wants to be prepared.

Solo singers will also find new rules. Each preliminary round is limited to 10 contestants. Any additional hopeful will need to attend a prelim at a different club to compete. Any entrants not making the cut can compete at up to nine other preliminaries.

"We think this will spread out the competition, but they need to read the rules, especially returning singers who are used to the old ones," Doughman says.

One other criterion for the solo competitors, especially those who advance, is the require of having a passport. The winner of this Voice of Pride will head to Manchester, England, to perform at its Pride event.

"We struck a deal with the Manchester tourism board," Doughman says. "If [a singer] doesn’t have a passport or can’t prove they are getting one, they will be disqualified."

Doughman feels the changes will increase the excitement of the contest.
"We want to keep VOP legitimate, fun and these additions take it to a whole other level and we are excited to be able to offer it."                  

— Rich Lopez

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 28, 2010.
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