Talent contest picks local winners

Two sisters came out on top as Hollywood producers, vocal teachers and local community members scouted foothill teens for pure talent and charm at a talent contest on Sunday.

Sisters Sara and Mimi Klein shared first-place honors. The Marlborough High School students performed separately, with Sara performing a bluesy song and Mimi snapping to a jazz number. But the judges felt they could be an act together and named them joint first-place winners.

Mimi enrolled in the showcase after her mother found a flier about the event at Hans Beauty Store.

"I was really excited and really nervous also," Mimi said. "I just love to sing. I'm into jazz and I love those songs. Ella Fitzgerald is my idol and I love her."

Second-place winners were La Cañada High School seniors Emmett Hayes and Clay Finch, who performed "I Know You Rider," a traditional blues song covered by many artists, including The Grateful Dead.

The two guitarists and singers heard about the event over La Cañada High School announcements last week, Clay said.

[Emmett and Clay] were talented," Wright said. "They just really came prepared. They worked on their harmonies and had good stage presence."

Third place was awarded to the Christopher Brothers, a threesome including Cameron, Charles and Ethan Christopher who performed the original song, "Just Another Day."

Placing fourth was Isabel Wing, a Verdugo High School student who played acoustic guitar and sang Kate Vogel's "Playing with my Heart."

The competition offered more than 20 local acts the opportunity for a 10-hour recording session at Future Sounds Studios in Hollywood with music producer Rene van Verseveld, who has worked with artists including Enrique Iglesias, Ricky Martin and Lady Gaga. The first annual WAW California Starz Talent Contest at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge was hosted by Wendy Alane Wright, owner of WAW Talent Training Studios in La Cañada, in a partnership with the local Kiwanis Club.

"We wanted to find the most talented kids in the Foothills community," Wright said. "I want to give them the opportunity to make it, to become successful. I want to bring Hollywood to La Cañada."

Contestants were judged on their talent, ability, stage presence, emotion, technical ability, vocal quality, uniqueness and overall performance.

The judges didn't see the next Michael Jackson on stage, but the contest was meant to offer support, feedback, rewards and honest opinions for skilled artists, Wright said.

"They don't become that unless they have those kind of opportunities now," Wright said. "Eventually some of them will sing the music I listen to on the radio."

The next contest will be held again during the last week in April but the exact date is yet to be determined, Wright said.

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