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February 20, 2008 > A new Teen Idol

A new Teen Idol

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco
Photos By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

The votes are in and the new Union City Idol is... Kristen Dattolico of Union City. "Kristen stood out because she has great stage presence, sang great and captivated the audience," stated Jumoke Hill, the competition's originator. Dattolico is a 9th grade student at Logan High School who thought that she only had half a chance to win the competition because "There are a lot of people who are really good [performers] and I'm kind of sick." She was also the "wild card." Judges reconsidered her Round Two audition and called her back to return for Finals. When asked to describe her experience with the competition process, Dattolico replied, "It helped me. I get to feel what [this type of competition] is like. It really made me think."

Second place went to Adolfo Hernandez of Turlock who brought a guitar for his performance. He had been nervous throughout the audition process, but appeared to channel those nerves to work to his advantage. Hernandez thought that the judges' pointers helped to bring a better performance out of him. He clearly took their advice.

Third place went to rapper Veno Bender, a senior at Fremont's Washington High School. When asked how he felt about his chances for winning the competition, Bender smiled and said, "I think I have a good chance. I'm feeling confident." His confidence paid off.

Teen Idol Night took place at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8. The Union City Teen Center (1200 J St., Union City) was filled with the finalists' family and friends and a few others who wanted to watch the show. The supportive crowd was exuberant and cheered on each performer as they competed for the title of "Union City Teen Idol" and one of three prizes. The prizes were: third place receives gift cards to Best Buy and Starbucks, second place wins an iPod Shuffle, and first place wins four hours studio recording time and an iPod Nano.

Judges selected the winners based on a point system. Each judge scored the finalists on Stage Presence, Originality, and Audience Reaction. After all the finalists performed, the scores were added and the contestants with the three highest scores won. The finals judges were Marissa Vera (Supervisor, Union City Youth Commission), Rajiv Narayan (Chairman, Union City Youth Commission), Monica Reyes (local singer/dancer), Mary Steeley (Program Coordinator, Union City Leisure Services), Chris Dela Cruz (Recreation Leader, Union City Leisure Services). "Judging," said Vera, "seemed difficult at times. Working with kids you always want to give them positive and constructive feedback and encourage them to try and try again! But with this being competition, they only get one chance. They aren't able to try and try again."

Other finalists were Grazia Benedetti (San Francisco), Analisa Corral (Hercules), Bre'chele Harris (Hercules), Aaron Hinton (Mountain View), Tajarae Jones (Fairfield), Brandon Martinez (Union City) and Jazleen Serrano (Union City). "Judging Union City's first ever Teen Idol was extremely hard," said Judge Reyes. "So much talent but yet there could only be one winner."

So, what's next for the competition's originator and will there be another Teen Idol competition next year? Hill was candid with his answer, "Yes, I will more than likely audition for American Idol again. That show is such a big opportunity and when it comes around I just can't say no." He added, "Judging teen idol was a lot of fun. I go on so many auditions I thought it was cool to be on the other side of the table. Teen Idol was something I always wanted to have in Union City. Now that the first one was successful, I'm sure there will bigger ones in the years to come."

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