Staff Report


Elizabeth Padfield and Jake Gildred of the Santa Ynez Valley have again been named two of the 12 finalists in the Teen Star Santa Barbara singing competition.

The popular event and its companion Teen Dance Star are now in their eighth seasons of crowning hard-working local students under the guiding hand of creator and executive producer Joe Lambert, a former valley resident.

“I am really impressed and humbled by their hard work, and what’s really amazing is they set their goals to get into the show, or into the top 12, and they keep pursuing their dreams,” Lambert said.

This year’s Teen Star finalists from all around Santa Barbara County will be performing their hearts out at the Arlington Theatre on Feb. 24.

Elizabeth is an eighth-grader at Solvang Elementary School, and Jake is a freshman at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School

The other finalists are Ava Burford of Santa Barbara High School (11th grade); Benjamin Catch of San Marcos High School (10th grade); Daniel Geiger of Pioneer Valley High School (12 grade); McKenna Gemberling of San Marcos High School (9th grade); Neve Greenwald of Dos Pueblos High School (9th grade); Holly Hadsell of La Colina Junior High (7th grade); Savannah Jayaraman, who is home schooled (12th grade); Nicole Trujillo of Dos Pueblos High School (12th grade); Sophia Schuster of Crane Country Day School (8th grade); and Milania Espinoza of Lakeview Junior High School (7th grade).

Last year, Elizabeth made it into the final round, judges said her vocal talents were well beyond her years.

“Your voice is the instrument, and I felt like we were in the 1930s,” judge Catherine Remak said last year.

Elizabeth is no stranger to the stage. She has performed in the valley for various functions, sang at the Solvang Julefest tree lighting ceremony in December, and appeared in many productions with the Arts Outreach Summer Theater.

Last year’s Teen Star winner was Nolan Montgomery and the Teen Dance Star was Sophia Cordero.

The mission of Teen Star Santa Barbara is to support youth in performing arts with the goal of nurturing talent by inspiring passion, instilling a drive for success and encouraging excellence and professionalism.

The proceeds from the showcase will benefit performing arts in Santa Barbara County schools.

For more information, visit or call 800-380-9110, ext. 200.