With awe-inspiring sets, dozens of performers, and a wall paneled with 12 24-inch HDTVs, Teens Sing for Santa Barbara will be a show to remember. Determined to help the community recover after the Thomas Fire and mudslide, area teenagers created, produced, and will star in the all-around extravaganza. Kiara Lin, a 15-year-old Santa Barbara High School student, had the idea for the benefit concert after she was turned away from volunteering for search-and-rescue efforts following the devastating mudslides. Steadfast in her desire to help, she contacted her friends Tali Ratcliffe, 16, and Jackson Gillies, 18, to put together what has become Teens Sing for Santa Barbara.
The event is a celebration of life, bringing the spirit of healing to Santa Barbara County, said Teens Sing producer Gillies. After joining the effort, Gillies, who won the title of Teen Star in 2016, promptly applied for and received the Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund. Using the donated monies and his industry connections formed through Teen Star, Gillies booked The Marjorie Luke Theatre for the event. The concert will feature Girls Rock S.B. vocalists, Santa Barbara Performance Tribe and Elevated Dreams aerialists, Momentum Dance Company, Lila Woodard from Le Petit Cirque, singer Dakota Lotus, Daniel Geiger (Teen Star 2018 winner), Hunter Hawkins (Teen Star 2016 and 2017 finalist), Sophia Cordero (Teen Dance Star 2017 winner), and Sofia Schuster (Teen Star 2018 alternate finalist). Also on the bill is Lauren Cantin, the 14-year-old mudslide survivor who was rescued from beneath the mud that destroyed her home and took the lives of family members. Music legend Kenny Loggins and Bill Champlin will also perform.
Gillies recently spoke with the Santa Barbara Independent about the origin of the event and the community support it has already garnered.
Why did you decide to help start this benefit concert, Teens Sing for S.B.? Did you find support from the community? I was in Monterey, evacuated during the Thomas Fire. I have some health problems, and I really couldn’t handle the smoke. While I was there, the mudslides hit. I was approached by Kiara Lin; it was really her idea to create the event. She wanted to help out …, but she was told that she wouldn’t be allowed to. Instead of giving up, she decided to put together this concert. It’s really a representation of S.B. teens. The show is teen produced and performed (with some adult performances, but teens are really at the center). We received so much support from the community! Jeff Martin from KEYT-TV became creative director and is recording and filming the event and some behind-the-scenes vignettes. The Santa Barbara and Montecito YMCAs are even offering one-week free passes for ticket holders, and we have so many amazing sponsors and people helping with the show.
Do you have a “mission statement” for this show? What are you trying to say through producing this concert? We are teens, we are here, and yes we can! Instead of conceding to the belief that teens are too young to help recover from these tragedies, we are here to show that we can help. After we made an Instagram account for the show, on the first day we got 80-90 replies from people asking how they could help. Just on the first day! We’re showing that we can make a difference and raise funds to help. This concert is focused on healing. It’s a celebration of life. We need everyone to spread the word, share posts, put up posters, come to the show, talk it up, go to the website to get and encourage others to get tickets.
Teens Sing for Santa Barbara takes place Friday, March 9, 7 p.m., at The Marjorie Luke Theatre (721 E. Cota St.). All proceeds go to a Unity Shoppe fund for the survivors of the Santa Barbara and Montecito disasters. Premium-seat ticket holders are invited to a meet-and-greet with Kenny Loggins on the day of the event, 6:15-6:30 p.m., and will receive a signed lanyard from Loggins. Tickets are for sale at teenssingforsb.com.