5 West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Friday, March 30, 2012
Chicks with picks
Organization to stage singing contest
in Litchfield Park Sunday
by Rich Ott assistant editor
shows in Arizona a little more than two years ago, the singer was constantly told one thing. “You have to meet Chicks with Picks,” the Avondale resident recalled.
As soon as Teneia Sanders began playing open mic
She not only met them, she joined the organization. “They do a lot of real good things for female singers/ songwriters here [in Arizona],” said Sanders, who moved to the Valley after being reared in Jackson, Miss. “They help them get into venues, which is hard, especially for people new in town or who don’t know how to promote themselves.”
Avondale resident wins One way Chicks with Picks promotes female singers
Valleywide is with its annual Chickstock Singing Contest. The event features several preliminary rounds, each one producing a winner for the semifinal round. The front lawn of the Wigwam, 301 E. Wigwam Blvd. in Litchfield Park, will be the site of the third preliminary round in 2012 from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. The event is free for the public to come watch, though there is a charge to perform in the show: $25 for Chicks with Picks members and $40 for nonmembers. Interested singers can register in advance at azchickswithpicks.com
or on site an hour before the contest begins. Sunday’s show is acoustic only and the women can have accompaniment by men. The singers are competing for cash prizes, studio recording time and a slot in the 11-band lineup at the annual Chickstock Music Festival, set for 1 p.m. April 28 at Harold’s Corral, 6895 E. Cave Creek Road in Cave Creek. The headliner for the fifth annual festival is Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams. Sanders has the slot right before Williams, just one of the perks for winning the 2011 Chickstock Singing Contest. Chicks with Picks “hooks [singers] up to connect with one another and to share the stage with some amazing talent,” Sanders said. After winning last year’s singing contest, Sanders
was part of the 2011 Chickstock festival lineup, which featured country star Jamie O’Neal as the headliner. By netting the grand prize in the singing contest, Sanders received $1,000 and eight hours at Epicentre Recording Studio in Phoenix. She also won Best Original
View photo by Michael Clawson
RHONDA HITCHCOCK, LEFT, AND PANDY RAYE, both of Phoenix, perform a quick song Monday in Litchfield Park to promote Chickstock Singing Contest for women that will be held Sunday at the Wigwam.
Song at last year’s singing contest, which netted her an additional $500.
Sanders used the money and recording time to help produce her second album, “Confessions of the Scorpio,” which was released in September on SonaBlast Records, an indie-music label based in New York City and Louisville, Ky. “I can’t say enough good things about [Chicks with
Picks],” and not just because she is a member or won last year’s contest, Sanders said. “They really do care about the artists they promote and they help empower young and old musicians.”
Meet the co-founders In five years as an organization, Chicks with Picks has helped more than 350 singers and booked more than 1,000 shows, said its co-founders, Pandy Raye and Rhonda Hitchcock. “So many girls, no matter how young or old, are trying
to find someone or some way to get their music heard,” Raye said. “We have power in numbers.”
Not only do Chicks with Picks help musicians be heard by booking them in paying gigs all across the Valley, they offer advice garnered from experience, as well as developmental workshops and discounts on promotional materials. If it’s a young musician, “We’ve been through
everything they’re going through,” said Raye, who began singing backup vocals in her parents’ band at age 8. Now at 52, she performs lead vocals in her band, Rondavous. Hitchcock, 39, has been a professional singer, too, though in recent years she has spent most of her time writing songs. One of her original songs landed on the defunct WB television show, Summerland. The duo met while members of the advisory board for
the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. “I was wondering where all the female singers in town
that would help female singers land gigs in the Valley. Chicks with Picks started with a rotation of seven musicians and quickly grew to 35 in three months, the co-founders recalled.
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were,” Raye said. After the two discussed it, they decided to form a group
A way to open doors The group has evolved over the years and recently
began the nonprofit Chicks with Picks Foundation. The group books singers weekly at many venues across
the Valley, including the Wigwam, and also has outreach programs, such as sending the younger singers to perform for the children at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “It’s a great organization that helps musicians play all across the Valley,” Sanders said. “And to see the kids react at Phoenix Children’s Hospital is really neat.” For musicians “who are serious with their craft, we try to get them exposure to where a label will pick them up,” Raye said. “Then for the older ones, like me, who think the door has closed, how do we reopen the doors?” The Chickstock Singing Contest is one way to open
doors. The event, which began in 2009, will be offering a $1,000 grand prize this year, which includes eight hours of studio time at Epicentre Recording, a paid gig at Harold’s Corral and a slot at Chickstock Music Festival 2012. Second place nets four hours of recording time and a guitar. Then the artist voted to have the Best Original Song receives $500. This year the contest features eight preliminary rounds across the Valley, followed by the semifinals on April 15 and then the finals on April 22, both at Harold’s Corral. Each round has three different local and industry “celebrity” judges, the co-founders said. Depending on the number of participants at each preliminary round, the singers either belt out one or two songs. Last year, 68 singers participated in the event Sanders won, Hitchcock said. Each participant in this year’s singing contest receives
two tickets to the April 28 Chickstock Music Festival. Admission for the all-day event is $25; children 12 and younger will be admitted for free.
One of the reasons the group decided to conduct the annual contest was to give residents a chance “to hear what kind of talent is in their own backyard,” Hitchcock said. “Pretty much every time someone comes out to one of our shows, it’s the same reaction, ‘I didn’t know there is this much talent out here.’” “I’m very proud of this organization,” Raye said. “To know we help these girls get to the next level is pretty cool.”
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