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Get to know your Pride Idol contestants!

by Steven Foster • Photos by Dalton DeHart

Those of you who have been following the Pride Idol competition, you know who’s still in the running. But here were the first ten songbirds to make the cut.

Ernesto Rodriguez
Cowboy Mouth

ErnestoRodriqueaWhile his first purchased musical choice was Matchbox Twenty, handsome Hispanic Rodriguez is the contest’s country crooner. Musical influences track the arena C&W pop of Garth Brooks, George Strait, and fellow Houstonian Clint Black. He’s not lacking in confidence, either. His confessed dream is, “Me, on a big stage, backed up by a great band and supported by loads of fans,” adding that his vision is “both clear and achievable.” Well, he does look pretty nice in a cowboy shirt.

JeanNicole Rivers

JeanNicoleRiversRivers is beautiful, no doubt about that. And since she was raised in the church, she’s been touched by an angel in the vocal department. She gives her Creator props for her gift, and claims that singing is, for her, “the deepest form of meditation.” That’s a very Grammy-winning speech and all, but it’s her penchant for Ella Fitzgerald that gives her the big band balladeering that these competitions are made of.

Linda Lambert Classic Rocker
LindaLambertShe may not be the teenybopper of the group, and her musical influences are definitely not the pop ear candy of Lady Gaga or Britney which, actually, is pretty refreshing. No, Lambert’s been raised on a steady diet of Linda Rondstadt, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, and Sheryl Crow. Born in New York, this rock-n-roll belter should make the crowd flick their lighters in salute

Christopher Plata The first album he ever purchased was a Mariah Carey greatest-hits compilation, so you prettyChristopherPlata much know where this guy stands or, rather, kneels. Plata swoons about Mimi, “She is THE diva.” And just in case you took his pop roots in question, note his other obvious references in his song psyche: Josh Groban, Michael Buble, and national Idols David Archuleta and Carrie Underwood. You can tell this guy was raised on this stuff.

Hoja Lopez

HojaLopez
Hoja Lopez

Though she might have once had a pension for Spice Girls, this bubbly alt-chick made up for that questionable choice by immersing herself in decidedly more edgy musical territory. Lopez digs Radiohead, the Smiths, Massive Attack, Björk, Amy Winehouse, and bands even Kurt Loder never heard of. The Idol winner gets a plane ticket. Where’s Lopez going? NYC. Why? “I hear they have dirty snow, pickpockets, and Tracy Morgan,” she admitted on the Idol Myspace page.

AJ Cabrera

AJCabrera
AJ Cabrera

Cabrera was big for Britney’s first LP. So much so he learned all the dance routines from the videos and performed them with his sister. So we know what crowd this guy’s playing to. In case there was any doubt, Cabrera (like fellow pop worshipper Plata) confesses a dying devotion to all things Underwood.

Shauna Wood
The “Out”sider

Shauna Wood
Shauna Wood

The Pride Idol committee famously did not require anyone in the competition be a member of the LGBT family. But of the group, Wood is the most out and the most proud, saying that if she wins, she’s taking her “beautiful wife” to DC with the winning ticket so they can both be in the political epicenter of all the gay marriage legislative battles. But it’s her genre-hopping from favorite artist Pink to iconic songbird Lena Horne that gives Wood the vocal chops for the competition.

Ben Montes
Kid Bop
Seriously, Montes looks like he’s about 12. But don’t let that fool you about the kid’s vocal styling. Sure, his first CD might have been Heavenly Place by Jaci Velasquez, but his latest influence? Ella Fitzgerald. Says Montes: “She really used her voice as an instrument, and it was chock-full of emotion. When I listen to her sing anything, it really, really inspires me as a vocalist.” Who says the kids of today don’t respect their (musical) parents?

Racquel Refuerzo
The Chanteuse
This multicultural—and openly lesbian—beauty is another one of the Idol wannabes who enjoys a diverse playlist of musical influences. The earlier Disney-fied Refuerzo (she was raised on the Lion King , Beauty & The Beast , and Little Mermaid musicals), complemented her showtune stylings with the likes of alt-fave KT Tunstall, Sara Bareilles, and even a little Billie Holiday thrown in for good measure. That’s a nice playlist for any human jukebox.

Anthony Magee
The Crooner
Dark and handsome, Magee is bringing the cool to the competition. While his favorite artist and influence is the Purple One himself, Magee’s musical mojo is juiced more by the likes of Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, and Patti Labelle than Prince. His church background gives him the raise-the-roof pipes needed for the sing-off, but if Magee works those come-hither bedroom eyes, the crowd will be his. n

She may not be the teenybopper of the group, and her musical influences are definitely not the pop ear candy of Lady Gaga or Britney which, actually, is pretty refreshing. No, Lambert’s been raised on a steady diet of Linda Rondstadt, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, and Sheryl Crow. Born in New York, this rock-n-roll belter should make the crowd flick their lighters in salute.

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Ste7en Foster

Steven Foster is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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