Santa Barbara Teen Star judges agonized for two days last weekend as they had the difficult choice of selecting the top 10 finalists for the finale of Santa Barbara Teen Star, set for 7 p.m. April 8 in the auditorium of the Santa Barbara High School theater.

More than 70 students participated from 22 Santa Barbara County schools. Song selections ranged from The Beatles, Broadway and, bravely, “At Last” by Etta James.

“These teens exceeded our expectations,” said Joe Lambert of the Lambert Foundation Inc., who was one of the volunteer judges for the second annual event. “They were all amazing performers.”

The top 10 finalists and two alternates chosen are:

» Chelsea Chaput of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

» Heather Ehlen of San Marcos High School

» Alexis Escobedo of Maple High School

» Jenna Garcia of Dos Pueblos High School

» Geoffrey Hahn of Santa Barbara High School

» Morgan Laughlin of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

» Savannah Meares of Santa Barbara High School

» Aoife Quinn of Santa Barbara High School

» Barrett “Bear” Redell of Los Olivos Elementary School

» Christian Schmidt of Righetti High School


» Caesar Franco of Santa Barbara High School

» Micaela Dattilo of Goleta Valley Junior High

Santa Barbara Teen Star is a competition to discover the freshest teen solo singing talent in Santa Barbara County while also benefiting the High School Performing Arts Departments of Dos Pueblos, San Marcos and Santa Barbara.

“I understand the challenges of the music industry, but in all honesty I’d rather do this than anything else,” Meares said.

The Santa Barbara Teen Star finale will feature judges Kenny Loggins, Jimmy Messina, J.R. Richards and Catherine Remak. Prize awards include recording in a world-class studio with Dom Camardella of Santa Barbara Sound Design and radio appearances including K-Lite 101.7 FM and Z945FM. Finalists also become eligible for The Granada youth trip to Europe July 2-10.

Similar to other talent shows, audience participants make the final decision with the judges guiding the process. Vote via cell phone for your next favorite Santa Barbara Teen Star.

“Performing makes me feel alive and inspires me to fight for something. I want to win this competition,” said Chaput, who has her future set on being accepted to the Juilliard School of the Arts.

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here or visit Guest Services at Paseo Nuevo and La Cumbre malls.

— Maria Long is a publicist.