Four North Texas vocalists aged 14-19 were named winners of the Start the Journey Youth Voice Competition, presented by Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival and Downtown Arlington. The winners were chosen from a group of sixteen finalists who competed live on stage October 3, 2021 at the Arlington Music Hall. Start the Journey is sponsored by Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and The Cove Studios, a professional recording studio located near Downtown Arlington.
From the legend-making stage of the Arlington Music Hall, finalists competed for Best Vocalist of a genre-specific, 4-person team. They also competed for the titles of Fan Favorite and Grand Prize winner. Each winner received a $250 cash prize, a free recording session at The Cove Studios, and an opportunity to perform live as part of an opening act at the Levitt Pavilion Arlington. The Grand Prize winner received an additional $500 cash prize.
Start the Journey Youth Voice Competition winners are:
- Kiara Mullins of Martin High School in Arlington ISD won Best in Pop (Team A) genre. She also was the Grand Prize winner. Her winning performance was “I Want You Back” by The Jackson Five.
- Mallory Rose Gomez from Lamar High School in Arlington ISD won Best in Rock. She sang "Blue Bayou" by Roy Orbison. Her outstanding performance also earned her the Fan Favorite title from the audience.
- Riley Gilbreath of North Crowley High in Crowley ISD won Best in Country. Riley, who started playing the banjo and other bluegrass instruments at age 12, performed an original song. His "Down by the River" is about being a slave to sin, and going down to the river to be baptized and washing away that sin.
- Anyssa McDonald from Summit High School in Mansfield ISD won the Best in Pop (Team B). She sang the Broadway classic, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” from Funny Girl.
A group of industry insiders, educators and music professionals served as judges for the finals competition:
- Eoin Donovan is Studio Manager and Recording Engineer at The Cove Studios in Arlington, TX. Making music since 1995, Eoin has appeared on stages in places such as SXSW, House of Blues, and Globe Life Park.
- Dakota Jimenez is a dynamic deejay and holds a DJ residency at Texas Live! in Arlington. A staff recording engineer at The Cove and Production Manager at Blackbox215, he also performs at parties, festivals, clubs, and other large scale events.
- Jamar Jones, Assistant Professor for Music Industry Studies at UTA, has worked as a producer, music director, songwriter, arranger and session musician for a “who’s who” list of artists, including Boyz II Men, Jill Scott, Fantasia, Jamie Foxx, Kanyé West, Janet Jackson, and more. He is the 2018 recipient of the ASCAP award for Top Cable Television Series for The New Edition Story, for which he was an underscore composer. He also produced the theme song for the movie Hurricane and recently contributed string and piano arrangements for Patti LaBelle’s critically-acclaimed jazz album, Bel Hommage, as well as to the soundtrack of the cinema blockbuster The Greatest Showman.
- Jane Alexander is a long-time resident of Arlington. After studying at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), she founded Prism Performing Arts Center and now co-owns AH Records and Zig Productions. Jane currently serves as Chairman of the Board for The Best of Texas Music and serves on the advisory board for Dance Theatre of Arlington. She has been a member of the Levitt Pavilion Board of Directors for 14 years, and she serves on the new Advisory Committee for the Arlington Music-Friendly Community.
- Dr. David Arditi is Associate Professor of Sociology at UTA. Following a decade gigging as a drummer, he began conducting research on the music industry. Arditi has written extensively about music, including his book Getting Signed: Record Contracts, Musicians and Power in Society.
About Ramblin' Roads Music Festival
The “Start the Journey” Youth Voice Competition is part of the 2021 Ramblin’ Roads Music Festival, a celebration of all the diverse music, people, and memories that come together for the best American road trip. Debuting October 1 - 3, 2021 in Arlington, a designated State of Texas Music Friendly Community, attendees enjoyed an eclectic mix of live music throughout the three-day festival featuring Levitt Pavilion, Arlington Music Hall, Texas Live!, and 15+ venues and various hosted events including Jazz in the Park, Urban Artisan Market, Start the Journey Youth Voice Competition, Classic Car Show, screening of American Graffiti, and a Gospel Brunch. Founded and coordinated by the Downtown Arlington organization, Ramblin’ Roads is created through the collaboration of the community and its many businesses that make up Downtown Arlington. RamblinRoadsFest.com.