Feature Stories

Is One of These Dallas Kids the Next Big Superstar?

Raul Antonio is an up-and-coming performer.
Raul Antonio is an up-and-coming performer. Zakk Manzella
click to enlarge Raul Antonio is an up-and-coming performer. - ZAKK MANZELLA
Raul Antonio is an up-and-coming performer.
Zakk Manzella
Linda Septien knows a thing or two about talent. As the founder of Septien Entertainment Group, Septien has coached and developed Texas superstars Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and many more. She’s earned her title as the Kingpin of Pop Talent, yet she shows no signs of slowing down.

SEG boasts a loaded roster of teenage talent — dozens of youngsters honing the crafts of singing and songwriting. That roster includes three rising stars who’ve already made waves on the local scene, yet like Septien, they’re only getting started. In her words, “These three are killing it.”

Jenna Raine
Jenna Raine’s inspirations range from Ed Sheeran to gospel singer Tori Kelly, with a little bit of Oasis thrown in for good measure. Listen to her soulful covers and poppy original tunes and it’s easy to see why young U.K. stars Max and Harvey asked the 14-year-old pianist and singer-songwriter to join them on their European tour. Fresh off performances in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Dallas native is preparing to release her debut EP.

“It’s about me,” she says of Nen, the EP that draws its title from her nickname. “I want people to know what I can do as a singer and a writer.”

Nen has five tracks and a bonus record, each about someone in Raine’s life.

“I put a lot of heart, soul and guitar into it,” she says.

Raine also rocks the bass and ukulele.

“She’s blossoming,” Septien says. “And people on social media love her.”

The latter is undeniable. Raine has more than 121,000 followers on Instagram, though you probably won’t hear her mention that.

“I’m focused on giving people hope," she says. "That’s what I want my music to do.”

Nen comes out Jan. 25.

Griffin Tucker
“This is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen,” Septien says of 17-year-old Griffin Tucker. Lionel Richie and Katy Perry agree. Tucker earned raves from the judges — and a ticket to Los Angeles — when he went on American Idol in 2018. Perry noted his “old soul,” something Tucker takes pride in.

“I draw my inspiration from the classics: Queen, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles,” he says.

Tucker learned to drum from Ringo himself. As an 8-year-old, Tucker would put a Beatles video into the VCR and drum along as Starr played Beatles hits. He later picked up guitar, bass, piano, ukulele and mandolin. Oh, and he can sing, too. No matter what he’s playing, Tucker relishes playing in front of people.

“Performing is a conversation,” he says. “It’s difficult to understand your impact through a screen, and there’s nothing like getting on a stage and feeding off a crowd’s reaction.”

Tucker admits that being taken seriously was difficult when he was getting started as a baby-faced popper singing love songs. Things began to change when he released Believe It, a rock-heavy album.

“I wanted to release an album that was representative of my style and who I am,” Tucker says. “I wanted to make myself known as a rock artist.”

And Tucker shares Raine’s enviable optimism.

“As I always say, this year is the year,” Tucker says. “I’m going to meet a lot of people, keep releasing songs, keep releasing videos and keep playing shows. I’m going to keep trying to reach more people.”

Tucker’s next show is Jan. 30 at The Free Man in Deep Ellum.

Raul Antonio
Septien sees big things coming from Raul Antonio.

“He’s gifted onstage,” Septien says. “A Latin heartthrob in the making.”

Antonio sings in both Spanish and English, and he recently performed at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball. He writes all his own songs, drawing inspiration from a mix of hip-hop, R&B, Latin and funk. Like Tucker, he draws energy from the crowd.

“The first time I ever played was with these guys my dad used to jam with,” he says. “From that moment on, I knew this was the one thing I wanted to do.”

Antonio, who also produces his own tracks, sees big things ahead in 2019.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, keep making music that I love.”

Septien thinks the sky is the limit for an artist like Antonio.

“He has the look of a boy band type, and he’s the real deal,” she says. “He’s killer good.”
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Tyler Hicks was born in Austin, but he grew up in Dallas. He typically claims one or the other, depending on which is most convenient. His work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Truthout, The Texas Observer and many other publications.
Contact: Tyler Hicks