Some familiar faces returned to the stage – and the judges’ table – for the Derby Recreation Commission’s second iteration of the Derby Sing Off, held at the Hubbard Arts Center on Oct. 9.

One of those familiar faces was crowned the winner, too, as Derby’s J. Michael Terrell took first place in this year’s Derby Sing Off. Terrell was runner-up in the inaugural competition in 2019.

“It’s pretty cool,” Terrell said of winning the competition. “I came back to hopefully have some fun and to see what place I’d get this year.”

Terrell admits he did not start singing until 2019, when he was asked to help lead music for his church’s youth group. With the win in this year’s contest and $300 prize (including a session in The Cove), he said he plans to explore recording and singing professionally a little more.

As part of his winning performance, Terrell performed “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer in the opening round and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz during the finals. Other finalists included runner-up Jovi Garcia of Wichita (receiving a $150 cash prize) and third-place finisher Jaelen Johnston, also of Derby. Johnston took home a DRC prize pack for his efforts.

Like 2019, a total of 10 performers were selected to compete in the Derby Sing Off after auditions were held in The Cove back in August. The roster of singers taking part in this year’s competition included Cassandra Boone (Wichita), Robert Swinson (Derby), Charles “Bear” Grice (Mesa, Ariz.), Julia Osborn (Derby), Terrell, Nita Lujan (Los Angeles), Gage Webb (Haysville), Ava Grace Ladwig (Derby), Johnston and Garcia.

Judges include 2019 Derby Sing Off winner Makayla Brownlee, Derby Mayor Randy White and Wichita State University Associate Professor of Voice Michael Sylvester.

Director of Marketing Mykalynn Penny noted the DRC was pleased with the turnout from fans and contestants alike, with a better reception to the event this year solidifying future efforts.

“I personally want to see it continue. There are lots of talented people here and showing that off is something that I think is important to the community,” Penny said. “We also want to get people in to use our Cove space. We designed the building with it in it so that we can cultivate the arts as a whole.” 

Kelly Breckunitch is the managing editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him at kelly@derbyinformer.com for questions and news tips. 

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Managing Editor

Kelly Breckunitch is the managing editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him at kelly@derbyinformer.com for questions and news tips.