Talented young musicians took the Stars Over Texas Stage at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo on Tuesday afternoon for the epic final round of the 2018 Rodeo Rockstar competition.
The Rodeo Rockstar senior division champion title was awarded to David Lewis, 17, from Bellville, Texas. Lewis, who has been singing and playing the guitar for 10 years, performed “Old Alabama” by one of his biggest musical influences, Brad Paisley. This blue-eyed country boy wowed the judges with his Texas twang, guitar skills and by how he would engage and interact with the crowd as if he had been doing this for years.
“I hope to see myself [in a couple of years] playing for big names and spreading my music,” Lewis said.
Emily Gray, 14, of Baytown, Texas, won first place in the junior division. Gray impressed the judges with her vocal range while performing Carrie Underwood’s emotional and heartfelt song “Temporary Home.”
Although she has been singing since she can remember, she was incredibly nervous and happy during her performance, as it was her first competition, and she could not believe that she won.
“This is awesome, especially since this is my first time singing at competitions,” Emily said. “To be able to have the honor of winning is amazing. I’m still in shock.”
For the first time since the competition began in 2014, Rodeo Rockstar included a group division for judging. Five groups were selected to compete in the final round, but it was The Electric Sundaes that took home the inaugural win in 2018. The Electric Sundaes are a local Houston band, comprised of Dylan Champion, 10, Avery Handlin, 12, Joshua Chavez, 12, and Eli Woods, 14.
Although they may be young, these rockers blew everyone away with their incredible raw talent and their high-energy performance of “Paradise City” by one of their favorite bands, Guns N’ Roses. The Electric Sundaes have been together for more than two years and see themselves performing together for a long time.
“We hope to start writing our own original material at some point, to start our careers as original artists, and work together as a band,” Dylan said.
Contestants were judged by local radio host, Cowboy Dave, from The Morning Bull on 100.3 The Bull; Houston Chronicle music critic, Joey Guerra; and RODEOHOUSTON® concert video director Phil Nudelman.
Tonight’s Rodeo Rockstar winners received a $500 check from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, a full day in a recording studio with Stormy Cooper Media, and a performance in the 2019 Downtown Rodeo Parade. Second place winners received a $250 cash prize and the third place winners received a $100 cash prize.
Participants from across Texas submitted their audition videos on YouTube and online voting was open to the public for a month. More than 45,000 votes were cast online in the public voting portion of the 2018 Rodeo Rockstar Contest. Contestants were placed into three categories; Junior Division, Senior Division and Group Division. After the semifinals, five contestants in each division advanced to the final round where they performed to a live audience at the Stars Over Texas Stage.