Get To Know Your DOMAXXIII Nominees: Best Male Vocalist, Best Female Vocalist

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Welcome to our 2011 Dallas Observer Music Awards breakdown, wherein we'll use the weeks leading up to the DOMA showcases on Saturday, October 15 (which is also when voting ends), to explain the nominees in each category Today, we look at the nominees in the Best Male and Best Female Vocalist categories and see how each of these nominees got to this point. Read up on them, follow the links to hear their music and, if you're impressed, shoot the band some support in the first of a text vote sent to 61721 (see codes for each band below their names).

Best Male Vocalist

Sam Anderson (Epic Ruins, Quaker City Night Hawks)
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DAL120
How He Got Here: As rock vocalists out west in Fort Worth go, few can match Anderson's grit. He growls his way through Quaker City Night Hawks' blues-driven material and howls his way through Epic Ruins' psychedelia, sounding like he's just finished off a stale pack of Marlboros and adding a little throwback sheen to his still-new area bands' buzz.

Ryan Thomas Becker (RTB2, Last Joke)
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 DAL121
How He Got Here: Already a talented instrumentalist and alluring visual performer, Becker's secret talent is actual his vocal ability. Gruff and emotive, Becker's voice serves both introspection and rowdiness well. And he knows it: During a performance at Dada last week, he dropped his guitar and performed a song or two in a capella fashion, never losing a step in the process. 

Doug Burr
Text Your Vote: DAL122
How He Got Here: Burr's music often comes, thanks to its heavy subject matter, with some gravitas, and it's his voice that does much of the heavy lifting, lilting along at an impressive range. Whether whispering or shouting, there's pull there. Few vocalists regionally or abroad can match his control.

Nick Foreman (Dust Congress)
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 DAL123
How He Got Here: A former hockey player, Foreman ended up playing music in North Texas mostly by accident. But you'd never guess that from listening to this historically obsessed performer. His drawl may come across at times as lazy, but it's anything but; it's the perfect complement to his band's sound.

Tim Locke (Calhoun)
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How He Got Here: In a straight pop vocalist competition, Locke would run away with this award; his voice is soft and endearing, and his upper register especially so. Live, he impresses as well, sounding just as he does on record -- impressive since he has a proclivity for chewing gum while on stage.

Trenton Wheeler (Seryn)
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 DAL125
How He Got Here: At once booming and soft, Trenton Wheeler's vocals give Seryn's impressive instrumentation and arrangements that little something extra -- an anchor in their center. Even amid all that clutter -- not to mention shouted group vocals -- his efforts always manage to stand out. 


Best Female Vocalist

Text Your Vote: DAL126
How She Got Here: The young Darrow's résumé is already impressive -- far more so than any college freshman's résumé has any right to be thanks to her film work and the fact that she's already released two albums this year. Poppy, but not afraid to get a little experimental, Darrow sounds far more mature than her 18 years of age would suggest, too, as her voice bounces along at the forefront of her arrangements.

Sarah Jaffe 
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 DAL127
How She Got Here: Jaffe is about as big as big can get on the local level in North Texas these days, and it's not hard to understand why. Sure, she lyrically bares her soul, but it's the conviction that comes in her vocal delivery that makes it register with audiences. It's all about vulnerability here -- and few do vulnerable as well as Jaffe does. Fitting, then, that she has a song called "Vulnerable," too.

Madison King
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 DAL128
How She Got Here: For years, alt-country in North Texas has been a man's game with few exceptions (notably past nominee Amber Farris of Somebody's Darling), and King is hoping to right that wrong. With gritty, devil-may-care vocals that are as alluring as they are in-your-face, King's had a big year in 2011, thanks to the release of her first formal full-length album.

Mara Lee Miller (Bosque Brown)
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How She Got Here: Miller has been the best-kept secret in North Texas music for years thanks to her expressive, drawling vocals and elongated delivery. The driving force behind the painfully beautiful Bosque Brown outfit, Miller seems to hide from the spotlight. Her vocal brilliance refuses to allow as much.

Ashley Myrick (lalagray)
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 DAL130
How She Got Here: The most prominent female vocalist in the Dallas Family Band collective, Myrick first grabbed area audiences' attentions as a backing vocalist for The Beaten Sea's Dust Bowl anthems. Late last year, she burst out on her own, putting her piano chops and brittle, fluttering vocals at the forefront, capably displaying herself as a budding star in her own right.

Sam Robertson
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 DAL131
How She Got Here: Newcomer Sam Robertson treads familiar territory -- folk music with an acoustic guitar -- but it's her voice that helps her stand out from the pack. Somehow confident and tender at once, Robertson's vocals showcase her as anything but a flash in the pan. Expect to hear her name and music around the region for years to come.
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