It was an excitement-fueled night as folks packed into The Arlington Theatre to cheer for — and vote on — this year’s Teen Star. The 10 singers vying for the title were Ava Burford (S.B. High, 11th grade), Benjamin Catch (San Marcos, 10th grade), Daniel Geiger (Pioneer Valley High, 12th grade), McKenna Gemberling (San Marcos, 9th grade), Jake Gildred (Santa Ynez High, 9th grade), Neve Greenwald (Dos Pueblos, 9th grade), Holly Hadsall (La Colina Junior High, 7th grade), Savannah Jayaraman (homeschool, 12th grade), Elizabeth Padfield (Solvang Middle School, 8th grade), and Nicole Trujillo (Dos Pueblos, 12th grade).
Once all 10 contestants had performed and votes were tabulated, three were left to contend for the crown: Holly Hadsall, Nicole Trujillo, and Daniel Geiger. Twelve-year-old Hadsall gave an excellent rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, which vocally belied her tender age; Trujillo drew from her musical-theater roots, performing “Someone Like You” from Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, which highlighted her vocal prowess; and Geiger selected the upbeat, rousing “This Is Me,” from the film The Greatest Showman, which earned him a standing ovation.
While the judges deliberated and audience votes were counted, last year’s Teen Star, Nolan Montgomery, took the stage and performed an utterly gorgeous version of “She Used to Be Mine,” from the Sara Bareilles–penned Broadway musical Waitress.
In the end, the audience and the judges — Grammy Award–winning musician Kenny Loggins, K-Lite Deejay Catherine Remak, and Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Music President Randy Spendlove — selected Geiger as this year’s Teen Star.