Saddleback students shine at vocal competition


Contestant Sergio Ochoa hits a high note during his performance of “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” by Aerosmith. (Matthew Kirkland/ Lariat)

Taylor Stickle won the third annual Saddleback Star vocal competition with her performance on Thursday, March 3.

Eleven final contestants took the stage at the McKinney Theater Thursday night, all with hopes to be crowned “star” of Saddleback College. In order to do so, singers had to earn the vote of audience members, who could cast their vote by texting a specific code to a number after the show.

For the third straight year the host of Saddleback Star was local radio personality Kelly Jones, who kept the show flowing and provided fun facts about each contestant like how she and Lauren Demarco both love sloths.

Ketino Dumbadze started the night off with a booming performance of “Too Close” by Alex Clare. She was followed by an original song in English by Vietnamese rapper Lam Tran, who performed a different original song at last year’s competition in Vietnamese.

“This song is based on my story, cause I came here from Vietnam four years ago and I got so busy with school, my parents didn’t like me to do music because they expected me to do something else, which wasn’t my dream. I followed them and I forgot my dream,” Tram said. “I feel like I wake up now and I live my dream.”

The younger sister of a former Saddleback Star winner, Sophia Rollando, sang the song “Natural Women” by the band Arena and was followed by Demarco with “Burnin’ Up” by Jessie J.

Cameras and cell phones were allowed for the special event and audience members took advantage, snapping pictures and recording videos throughout the night. The laid back atmosphere combined with the exceptional singing made for quite the night.

“Oh my God, the crowd was awesome, the talent, everybody nailed everything that they were singing,” Jones said. “I was super glad that I didn’t have to vote for anyone because that was a challenge.”

Taylor Stickle was the contestant who received the most votes, for her performance of “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri, and was named the Saddleback Star. She received a $500 big check as her grand prize and had an unusual way to spend it.

“I mean I need new tires for my car, so probably that,” Stickle said.

Stickle is not only an amazing singer but is also a communication major at Saddleback. She hopes to pursue a career in the field of entertainment one day.

“I really enjoy singing and I love acting.” Stickle said. “I’m actually on the speech and debate team and I act through that. So I’m hoping to kind of do something through that along side with getting my communications degree.”

Brian Flores sang Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and Dylan Martinez performed his own version of “Bad Fish” by Sublime with an ukulele. They were both followed by Chicago native Jamella Perkins who sang “All in My Head” by Tori Kelly.

The first country song of the night, “Put the Gun Down” by ZZ Ward, was performed by Alexis Kerr and Shayan Farzadpour followed her with a song of his own coupled with acoustic guitar play.

Sergio Ochoa brought a lot of energy with “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” by Aerosmith in the last performance of the night. His song choice was inspired by the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” and at one point had the crowd chanting “Robin Williams.”

This year’s event was made possible by Dr. Ariel Alexander of the Commercial Music program and last year’s winner Maureen Eberhart performed two original songs “Maple Street” and “Lullaby,” while the votes were tallied.