Students sang, strummed and entertained the crowd at the Rodeo Rockstar Semifinals on Tuesday, March 5. Temperatures dropped to the 30s, but that did not stop the contestants from leaving it all on the stage.


The contest began in December 2018 when the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ opened the contest to all 6-21-year-olds. The contest began with video performance entries and online votes. More than 120 YouTube videos poured in and 70,000 votes later followed. The 20 with the most votes made it to the Semifinals, 10 in each division.


Judges were Joey Guerro, music critic for the Houston Chronicle, Phil Nudleman, front man for the band Froghat and RODEOHOUSTON® concert video director, and Cowboy Dave from The Morning Bull on 100.3 The Bull. Amanda Schlatre, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo manager of exhibits and events, said the judges’ feedback is important for the contestants.


“This event is a wonderful opportunity for the contestants to get their names out there,” Schlatre said. “The feedback from industry experts is great for them to hear.”


Kicking off the night was the junior division. Students from nine to 16 years old dazzled the stage with original songs, guitar and ukulele playing, and covers of artists including George Strait, Alicia Keys and Carrie Underwood.


Singer Kendall Walker, 12, sang her original song, “In the Country,” proudly on the stage.


“I think I did really great,” Kendall said. “It was my best performance yet.”


The senior division, with students ranging in age from 17 to 21, was filled with more original music, plus covers of Little Big Town, Josh Abbott Band and more.


Sarah Garza, 17, said singing in the cold was difficult.


“I was confident, but I was freezing — but I am so happy,” Sarah said. “Everyone was so great, I am sure it was a really hard job for the judges.


Sarah moved on to the Final Round, along with senior division performers Kenzie Butcher, Joey Keenan, Michael Norris and Colby Swift.


The five finalists of the junior division are Keaton Bradbury, Casey Chambers, Adline Lee, Dakota Marta and Kendall Walker. Be sure to catch these contestants’ performance in the Final Round, Tuesday, March 12, on The Junction Stage.