The 2019 Art of Music Gala Musicians
Headliner: Ron bultongez
Singer-songwriter Ron Bultongez is living the American Dream. From growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo to being named the “Hometown Hero” of Plano, TX and becoming a Top 24 Finalist on American Idol 2018, where he left Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan in awe of his voice. Ron’s dreams have taken him far. His journey, depth, and spirit are evident in his smooth yet raspy vocals and his bluesy, soulful songwriting.
Ron was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo February 14, 1996, where French was his native tongue, followed by Lingala and Swahili. But as turmoil broke out in the Congo, Ron’s family decided to immigrate to the United States. Although America provided more opportunities, turmoil followed Ron in his home life. His environment became abusive to the point where he ended up bouncing around homeless shelters and separated from his family. But the community of Plano invested in Ron and shaped him into the person he is today. Music saved Ron’s life when he needed a way to escape. He first sang in 6th grade choir.
Later, friends offered Ron a keyboard and an acoustic guitar and he taught himself how to play both, using emotions to create rather than any formal training. However, music was something that came to him naturally and not something he ever dreamed of pursuing as a career. Initially, Ron planned to play professional football and received scholarships to play quarterback at the collegiate level. After suffering concussions and ending up in a wheelchair as a result of multiple knee surgeries, his foster mother advised him to pursue his other love of music.
The pain of his past and his dreams for the future inform who Ron is both as an artist and a person. When Ron sings, listeners hear the soul, pain, and depth he carries with him. He writes to share the message that although life is hard and unfair, we are never alone. He shares this message with thousands of students every year as a public speaker. For his two younger brothers, of whom he is the legal guardian, and his son, James Melody, he works hard to create the safe and loving home he never had.
Before appearing on ABC’s American Idol 2018, he was featured on MTV for his activism and love for those in need. Ron has since been featured on CBS, ABC, Good Morning America, People Magazine, Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, Good Morning Texas, Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer and many other media outlets. He is the recipient of four Ghosty Music Awards: Best New Act, Best EP for Thank You PLANO, Best Male Vocalist, and Best Folk/Acoustic Act in 2017.
Ron’s 2018 achievements include International Student Foundation’s Impact Community Award and Finalist for the Immigrant Journey Awards in 2018. He also received two congratulatory letters from the US Congress for his excellence.
If it can be envisioned, it’s possible. If it’s musical, it’s Jamar Jones. The words “impresario” and “virtuoso” are not enough to appropriately describe this Philadelphia native, who has transformed his innate talents into that of a gifted pianist, composer, arranger, producer and modern technology visionary.
As a jazz arrangement and composition major at Temple University in Philadelphia, Jamar began working professionally in the music industry. His first producer credit was “Dear God” for fellow Philadelphia natives Boyz II Men on their Grammy-nominated album, “Evolution” in 1997.
To date, he has worked as producer, music director, songwriter, string arranger and session musician for a who’s who list of artists including: Angie Stone; Fantasia; Jamie Foxx; Kanyé West; Musiq Soulchild; Richard Smallwood; Vickie Winans; the Philly Pops as well as the producer of the theme song, “So Amazing” for the Denzel Washington movie “The Hurricane,” featuring Boyz II Men and the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Jamar’s work on the song “This is Me”, featured on The Greatest Showman soundtrack, won a Golden Globe in 2018 for Best Original Song and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Jones, a skilled arranger, also scored the rhythm section for the live performance of the 2018 Oscars and soundtrack for award-nominated film, “The Greatest Showman.” He is also the 2018 recipient of an ASCAP award for Top Cable Television Series for The New Edition Story, on which he was the underscore composer.
Described as “fabulous, adventurous, and spellbinding,” WoodWired is a contemporary duo based in Dallas, Texas. They regularly perform across the country, using live looping software and electronics. They perform contemporary and classical music, creating upbeat, fresh sounds that represent a fusion of jazz, classical, and pop genres.
WoodWired is known for their groundbreaking use of live electronics in a chamber music setting. They are quickly gaining popularity in this genre, presenting a truly unique sound. The duo’s music is not only popular in concerts, residencies at universities and conferences around the country but also works equally well in more intimate informal settings.
WoodWired’s debut album, In The Loop, was released in March 2018 under the University of Texas- Arlington Record label, which features almost entirely original compositions written by WoodWired. Itwas featured on multiple platforms, including being named Jazz Weekly’s “Ringer of the Week” and topping the Classical/Experimental chart on Stanford Zookeeper Online in July 2018.
Award winning singer-songwriter, Frankie Leonie is establishing herself as the newest rising star in the Americana Country/Folk music revolution. Frankie was born in the heart of the Texas music scene in Austin. Like many legends before her, she started singing in church, filled with music at an early age. Frankie has recently released her first single, Johnny Cash, cowritten by Melissa Bollea Rowe and backed by the band, The Texas Gentlemen. Her producer, Beau Bedford, of Modern Electric Sound Recorders was recently quoted as saying, "She has so much control, and it's beyond her years. Really our whole goal in the studio was to leave space for her vocals because they're like butter."
Most recently, she was featured in a blog post by Witt Stewart, former manager for Carole King. Jerry Jeff Walker and Joe Ely where he stated, "The idea of singing old country songs nobody knows is proof she has her heart in a unique place for a teenager and justifies her reason for writing Johnny Cash. Her voice resembles the age and comfort of a vintage pair of Levi’s jeans."
You can catch Frankie performing around DFW, Austin, San Antonio and Nashville, crooning her own musings alongside beloved classic country tunes.