By Khalida Sarwari
Love to sing but can’t afford to travel to the next American Idol auditions? South Bay teens will have an opportunity to take part in a singing competition locally this January in which the grand prize is a cool $2,500 for the talent with the best voice.
The Addison-Penzak Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos is hosting the South Bay Teen Idol competition for the second year in a row, giving songsters in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties a chance to belt their hearts out on stage and compete for cash prizes.
Auditions will be held on Jan. 20 in the auditorium for one day only. Registration will also take place that day, from 9 a.m. to noon, and auditions will begin at 10 a.m. Anyone who stands in line between those hours will have a chance to audition, said Diana Schnabel, executive director for the South Bay Teen Idol event and hospitality and special projects director at the JCC.
Sixty teens entered the contest last year. This time, organizers are counting on more.
“We’re hoping for at least 100 this year,” Schnabel said.
Judges will select 20 contestants to compete in the semifinals, which will be held on Feb. 28. From there, 10 will go on to the final competition on April 20.
The contest is open to any teen in grades 8-12 who lives in Santa Clara or Santa Cruz county. Those who participated in last year’s contest may enter, with the exception of the top three winners. The minimum age to enter is 13.
For the audition, organizers ask that contestants bring with them the required $20 cash registration fee, an 8×10 headshot, application form, valid ID and a printout of the student’s most recent semester or quarter grades. Applicants are required to have at least a 2.0 grade point average to participate in the competition.
As for the audition itself, contestants are free to sing a song of their choice, as long as they can do it a cappella and keep it under a minute.
Throughout the competition, the contestants will be judged by a panel of three judges. As of early December, only two had been confirmed: Randy Jones from local country radio station KRCY and Ruth Pangilinan, general manager of Broadway San Jose. The final competition will feature a fourth guest judge.
The ultimate prize is $2,500 for the winning singer and money for his or her school. Second and third place cash prizes will also be awarded. Last year’s winner, Casey Rico, a junior at Silver Creek High School, took home a $2,500 scholarship for herself and $500 for her school. Sanjana Shukla of Saratoga finished second and Dana Cullinane of Los Gatos was third.
For those interested in attending the semifinals, tickets ranging from $5 to $20 will go on sale beginning Jan. 22. Children 5 and under will be admitted free.
For the final competition, tickets will be $15 for students and $30 for adults. VIP tickets at $100 are available for those who would like to mingle backstage with the singers and judges after the show. Those tickets will go on sale March 5.
Tickets may be purchased only online this year, Schnabel said. The tentative start time for both the semifinal and final competitions is tentatively set for 7 p.m. at the JCC.
“We hope to put on a good show just like last year,” said Schnabel.
For more information or to print an application, visit siliconvalleyjcc.org/idol.