By Raiza Giorgi

Midland School student Emily Cummings found her love of singing by volunteering with her family as “redcoats” at the Solvang Festival Theater during PCPA’s summer theater series.

“Part of volunteering there is you also get to watch the performances, and I found I really loved the musicals and when the actors would sing,” she said.

Emily, 17, has been chosen along with nine other singers from around Santa Barbara County as the top 10 to perform Feb. 23 at the Arlington Theatre.

Emily got her first singing role at age 12 when she auditioned successfully for a musical put on by the Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara.

“I started working with a vocal coach and going once a week since I was 12,” Emily said.

A lot of Santa Ynez Valley kids travel to different events, but in Emily’s case the drive is a lot longer as she has lived on the Midland School campus since she was a child. Her father was a teacher for many years, and her mother is the school’s college counselor.

“I love it out here. It’s a unique place,” Emily said.

She has auditioned for Teen Star five years in a row and this is her first time in the top 10.

“I honestly am very excited to compete, but since the voting system is based on popularity, I am not sure I will win. Midland is a small school and I don’t have a lot of family around to vote for me,” she said.

However, she added, she will sing her heart out and hope to win over the judges with her performance.

“I am also really excited to do the group performance and get feedback about my sound,” she said.

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 winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship and job opportunities and get to open a show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. All finalists will also get funding for their schools’ arts programs.

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