Estelle leads pack of Pride Houston entertainers

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As we hurtle toward Pride like a freight train, mega talents are hitching their wagons. Singer Estelle just became the leader in a procession of performers through Houston’s first downtown Pride.

The British artist who blends and crisscrosses R&B musical genres (photo) headlines the 2015 festivities on June 27 on Pride’s main stage at Smith and Walker Streets. She was most recently seen making the cast swoon on “Empire” and brought the house down in a duet with gay “Empire” actor-singer Jussie Smollett on the Grammys.

Estelle has collaborated with some huge names in music, but you may still know her from her first and biggest hit, “America Boy” featuring Kanye West. The singer was a natural choice for Pride Houston, according to a prepared statement by Frankie Quijano, president of the organization.

“Estelle is an amazing talent who has broken a lot of new ground,” the statement reads. “Her music has inspired many in the LGBT community and she's a great fit to open our first festival and parade downtown.”

Other performers already announced include Big Freedia, Neon Hich and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen Ginger Minj. Pride Houston goes on to name a few other guests, hosts and featured personalities during its full week of events. “Great Day Houston” host Deborah Duncan will be the parade’s honorary grand marshal, along with these winning LGBT grand marshals.

The full announcement from Pride Houston:

(Houston, TX) — Pride Houston® is thrilled to announce the selection of Grammy®-winning R&B/Hip Hop/Soul/Reggae singer Estelle as the Houston Pride Festival headliner and “Great Day Houston” host Deborah Duncan as the Honorary Grand Marshal for the 2015 Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® onSaturday, June 27, 2015.

British singer Estelle Fanta Swaray recently performed at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards and was on the hit show “Empire”. Estelle rose to international fame with her hit single “American Boy” (featuring Kanye West) off the 2008 album “Shine”. That album earned her numerous awards including a Grammy® for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.” She has also collaborated with other musical luminaries including John Legend, will.i.am, David Guetta and Mark Wyclef Jean. “Estelle is an amazing talent who has broken a lot of new ground. Her music has inspired many in the LGBT community and she's a great fit to open our first Festival and Parade Downtown,” said Frankie Quijano, President and CEO of Pride Houston.

Estelle will perform on the main Bud Light stage during the Festival on Smith St and Walker St. Other confirmed entertainment acts include the “Queen of Bounce” Big Freedia, Neon Hitch, and current RuPaul's Drag Race top 3 finalist Ginger Minj.

“With the addition of the second stage, the Barefoot Wine Stage, we're able to get a really great and diverse group of local and national performers,” said Javier Ramirez, Executive Vice President of Pride Houston.

Deborah Duncan is a familiar face for many in Texas and beyond as the anchor and host of several local and nationally syndicated talk shows. She was also the news anchor at KHOU-TV Channel 11 and currently hosts “Great Day Houston”, a daily talk show that airs locally at 9 A.M on KHOU-TV. Duncan has received numerous awards for her work, including Emmy® and Telly Awards. “Debbie has reported on or featured several issues related to the LGBT community in her distinguished career, and we're proud to have her this year as our Honorary Grand Marshal.”

Also participating in the parade this year isAustin Wallis, a 17 year-old high school student who was forced out of a private school in Houston, for coming out and talking about being gay. Austin's emotional video with his boyfriend Nicolay generated international attention and over500,000 viewson YouTube, and his popular channel has now been viewed over 1.3 million times. Austin and Nicolay will ride on the Pride Houston float and debut a new video.

Radio personalities Chad Pitt from MIX 96.5, Sarah Pepper from HOT 95.7 with local support from Nina Lombardo emcee the first Houston LGBT Pride Celebration® in Downtown Houston. Over 450,000 participants are expected to attend an event in one of the nation's largest Pride celebrations and nighttime parade. Enhancements expected with the move Downtown include an expanded Family Fun Zone, a new Diversity Stage, Misting Stations, Grandstand seating, a large Chandelier hanging over the parade route and a fireworks display.

Other events planned during the week include the Salvation Pool Party, Dine with Pride, Eden: A Pride Girl Party, Rock the Runway, Wonderland Houston® and the finale to the 9th Season of the Pride Superstar® competition.

For a complete list of events, visit.

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