By SHANA ROSE
Six Tucson music groups were chosen to be a part of Hot 98.3’s inaugural Feelin 520 Showcase.
After online voters chose Delinquent, The Kennedys, Tora Woloshin, Marley B, Celena Santa Cruz and Kalvin Jarvis to receive air play, the musicians were invited to perform live.
Hot 98.3 program director D-Wayne Chavez hosted the showcase Nov. 21 at the Rialto Theatre. Celebrity guests John Hart, Abrina and Baby Bash also performed.
Chavez said the radio station created Feeling 520 to help Tucson talent make it in the music industry.
“I mean, what better feeling than to have your music heard on the radio?” Chavez said. “It gives them that extra push.”
Joey Antonio Velasquez, aka Delinquent, won with “Hallelujah.” He chose the track because it was the most “radio friendly.”
Velasquez describes the Tucson music scene as having its own unique style.
“It doesn’t sound like anything else and that’s why it’s taking so long for an artist to really break through,” he said. “The fact is, you need radio play to create a fan base.”
The Kennedys are a rap duo composed of James Milano, aka Millionz, and Matt Labozetta, aka Mat-trix. They share the stage with drummer A.J. Albritton and guitarist Jonathan Thomas.
“The Tucson music scene is growing, faster than I’ve seen it grow in a long time,” Labozetta said. “I feel that it’s very underground, though.”
Milano said the Kennedys’ main goal is to keep the crowd entertained.
“We love Tucson, but Phoenix is next,” Milano said. “Then California or Vegas. We’re only going to do so much staying in Tucson.”
Tora Woloshin is one artist who has already made her way out of Tucson. She was mentored by Simon Cowell during a season on “The X Factor.”
Woloshin’s mother submitted two winning songs, “Write This Down” and “Listen,” to Feelin 520.
Woloshin describes her music as pop-rock alternative. Her inspiration comes from vocalists such as Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, and rock bands like Killswitch Engage and Journey.
She was joined on stage by two dancers, Jeze Zankich and David Sinteral.
“I try to give my audience a full show,” Woloshin said. “I love dancing, so I do a little dancing. I get really into it, run around a little bit.”
When Woloshin returned to Tucson after pursuing music outside of Arizona, she realized the music scene was missing something.
“What I see of it right now, it’s kind of nonexistent,” she said. “When I was growing up, I was in a rock band. The music scene was a lot better. It just seems like it kind of died down.”
Marley Bertrand, aka Marley B, started with poetry at a young age, began writing lyrics at 15 and stepped up to the mic at 20. He submitted “Rear View Mirror” for Feelin 520.
Bertrand recently signed with the Murs 3:16 label for his next album, “The GLDN Ticket.” The album, a collaboration with Tucson rapper Cash Lansky, will be released in January.
“It’s just a dream come true to work with Murs,” Bertrand said. “Someone I grew up listening to, and for him to come up to me and say he’s a fan of my music … it changed the game for me. I have a different attitude towards music now.”
Bertrand said he has become more conscious of other artists and the renaissance of Tucson’s music scene.
“Tucson right now is booming,” he said. “I feel the hip-hop scene especially is on a whole other level. It can only go up from here.”
Celena Santa Cruz
Unlike artists determined to leave the city behind, Celena Santa Cruz wants to let the world know about the talent that resides in Tucson.
“I really love my city,” she said. “I think we do have some talent here.”
Santa Cruz started singing while enrolled in a private school where choir was a required class. She had no intention of pursuing music as a career until she began getting positive responses from listeners.
She won Feelin 520 with “Ima Have Me Some Fun,” and is looking forward to releasing her album “Day and Night” album next January or February.
“I would describe my old music as mainly R&B pop,” Santa Cruz said. “My new music that no one has heard, not one song, I’m just going to say ‘eclectic.’ It can’t be defined. I’m not sticking to one genre.”
Kalvin Jarvis won his first talent show in third grade, singing Tyrese Gibson’s “Sweet Lady.” The crowd’s response drove Jarvis to perform in front of anyone who would listen.
“I’d say at 14 or 15, that’s when I started writing my own music,” he said. “I got my first taste of hearing myself through the speaker. It was a wrap from then.”
Jarvis won Feelin 520 for four consecutive weeks after submitting “Musical Heartbeat.”
“I just felt that I had something to bring to the table,” Jarvis said. “I got a lot of people that like what I do. I’m being selfish by not putting myself out there. Nobody is going to do anything for you when you’re out here trying to do what we do.”
Jarvis said he was proud to win a radio station’s online contest, and to perform at the showcase.
“A lot of people want to do this, a lot of people are capable of doing this,” he said. “This is something I need to do, regardless if I get signed or not. This is what God put me here to do.”