On the Town: Burbank Singing Star competition a showcase for future stars

Whether it be "American Idol," "The Voice" or "America's Got Talent," there's no doubting that the nation is brimming with exceptional singers.

Charissa Wheeler, who owns and operates the Music Junction, a Burbank-based training studio that offers piano and voice lessons, proved there is also a lot of local talent as she staged the inaugural Burbank Singing Star competition at the Castaway restaurant Friday evening.

The event, held in partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Burbank in the hillside complex's Starlight Room, presented 20 semifinalists who were selected during a summer-long process that began with more than 300 singers between the ages of 4 and 12.

The audience of close to 400, who enjoyed Wheeler's opening rendition of Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein's "Orange Colored Sky" backed by dancers Elyse Bollesen, Katelyn Bright, Bridget Creshaw and Kaitlyn Glenn of the Burbank Dance Academy, were then welcomed by Kiwanis Club of Burbank President Cynthia Faust and comedian Jaime Monroy, who co-hosted the evening with Wheeler.

Judged by "American Idol" vocal coach Peggi Blu, actress and singer V. Bozeman, "American Idol" contestant Anthony Fedorov, singer, songwriter and producer Natasha Key and producer Alessandro Calemme, winners were selected in two categories: 5- to 8-year-olds and those from 9 to 12 in age.

In the younger category, the top honor went to Jordyn Curet, with Harlow Hamer placing second. In the older group, Jhanessa Lorraine Equila was named the winner, followed by Sierra Gracelyn Brogmus and Anna Pacino tying for second and Christian Ortega-Christiansen getting the third-place nod.

Others who rounded out the field in making the impressive semifinals cut were Ava Bianchi, Mia Brumbaugh, Caleb Perez, Josie Lafontant, Veronica Brossett, Pas Da Silva Bruni, Delilah Alice Stanton, Luke Steel, Malea Emma Tanudjaja, Raquel Ketelyn Brogmus, Kayleigh Lund, Lily Lee and Bella Stine.

"This competition was everything I wanted it to be — everything I hoped it would be," said a beaming Wheeler after Friday's event. "We learned a lot in building the framework for this to become an annual event — what we want to capture and the things we may want to change as we move forward."

Along with Friday's competition winners, the Burbank Family YMCA's Learn, Grow, Thrive program — which offers summer reading and enrichment for children from low income environments — also proved to be a winner as a recipient of a portion of the proceeds raised by the evening's ticket sales.

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DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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