By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

DownsiiD member Akira made it clear what celebrating local artists and local music during Saturday's Killeen Music Awards is intended to do.

"We will put Killeen on the map," Akira said while accepting the Best Rock Group Award with several other members of the 10-year-old local rock group.

The second annual KMAs celebrated local talent and musicians Saturday - a diverse line up of performers ranging from Hula dancers to hip-hop and rap.

The event, held in the Killeen Community Center, was a much greater success than the inaugural KMAs. The event drew a crowd of more than 100, a much greater turn out than last year's event, organizer Renae Noriega said.

Other artists encouraged each other, waving their hands and whooping during performances.

Noriega said she came up with the idea for the award show after she began promoting so many local artists. Her life first became immersed in local talent while promoting her son's music career.

She soon began fielding requests from other acts to help promote their music.

"Why teach one when I can teach all of them? That's when I adopted them all," she said.

Now it seems to have taken up most of Noriega's life. She is the founder of the W.O.J.M.+1 music education program, a nonprofit music school for children.

KMA hosts Cynthia Hinojosa, Mrs. Central Texas, and local artist SparkDawg presented microphone-style trophies to the winners selected in an online vote that garnered more than 22,000 ballots.

Awards were presented for best rock group, best R&B singer, best gospel singer, best club and best label, among many others.

Mayor Timothy Hancock was in attendance. Hancock told the crowd the Killeen music scene has grown just as the city has grown.

"There really is no limit because of citizens like you," Hancock said at the outset of the show.

Contact Philip Jankowski at or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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