But in the end, there could be only one winner, and this year the title went to Walter Cunningham.
Cunningham, better known for his drag performances at clubs across North Texas as “Jada Fox,” beamed with joy as he received hugs after the winners were announced. This was the fifth time Cunningham had competed in the vocal competition, but only his second making the finals.
“Last time I made the finals was either in 2007 or 2008,” he said. “Honestly, I was surprised [I won]. I’m my toughest critic.”
Cunningham will receive $3,500 and two round-trip tickets plus hotel accommodations in Orlando. He will also ride in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and perform at the Festival in Lee Park during Dallas Pride on Sept. 15.
First runner-up went to Eric Way. Way will receive $1,500 and ride in the parade and perform at the festival. Way, who has competed five times, had made the finals twice before. In spite of his tenure and experience in the Voice of Pride competition, this was Way’s first time landing in the top three.
“I was surprised I won first alternate,” he said. “Everyone brought their A-game. Walter totally deserved it. He pulled out all the stops. He is amazing.”
Other top finishers were second runner-up Vanessa Guzman, who will receive $1,000 and ride in the parade and perform at the festival. Third runner-up was awarded to Carlos Saenz, who will receive $800. Matthew Harrington will receive $700 as the fourth runner-up.
Sponsors this year included the Hilton Anatole, Pinnacle Vodka, Orbitz, Red Bull, Coors Light and Jagermeister.
The Voice of Pride competition, in its ninth year, is a vocal competition put on by the Dallas Tavern Guild, with preliminary rounds held throughout the summer at local gay bars. For more info, visit http://www.dallastavernguild.org
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