Local teen wins Hollywood singing competition


On the same stage where Halle Berry accepted an Academy Award and Kelly Clarkson became the original American Idol, 15-year old Sarah Knapp of La Jolla won two trophies for her singing in the Hollywood’s Best New Talent competition.

Knapp won the gospel/inspirational category for her rendition of “Joyful Joyful” and is a member of the band that took home an award for best vocal group.

Approximately 1000 contestants from all over the United States competed in categories such as modeling, dancing, acting and singing Aug. 10. Knapp said performing on stage in Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre was an exciting experience.

“Backstage there were pictures of Kelly Clarkson on the walls and they gave us our own dressing room with the biggest lock I’ve ever seen on it,” Knapp said.

Knowing that she was performing in the theater where so many Hollywood stars have been was overwhelming, Knapp said.

“It was kind of surreal, it was a great feeling,” she said.

Knapp was invited to audition for the event in February. During the audition process she received pointers from vocal coaches and met with scouts from various talent agencies. The top 10 performers in each category of acting, modeling and dancing were invited to vie for the attention of Hollywood on stage in August.

The teenager hopes the experience is only a preview of things to come. She aspires to have a career in the music industry as a singer/songwriter who promotes positive messages.

“My goal is to be the John Lennon of our era,” Knapp said.

Currently a freshman at The Bishop’s School, Knapp has already produced one recording, a Christmas album titled “Sarah Style”.

These days Knapp writes her own songs. With the ambitious goal of writing a song each day, Knapp has a repertoire of mellow rock tunes she plans to bring to the studio within the next few months.

“Ever since I was little, it’s been the best way for me to express myself,” Knapp said.

Knapp’s resume also includes numerous parts in local theater productions, including her most recent role as Ms. Darbus in “High School Musical” at the Lyceum Theatre. Last year she was a soloist in “Godspell” at The Bishop’s School.

Knapp can also be seen performing around San Diego in her band, Stellar. The group is comprised of nine girls, ages 11 to 17, who sing a cappella at local events. Their most recent gig was at a USO event.

Knapp and two of the girls from the band won best vocal group at “Hollywood’s Best New Talent.” Knapp, Christine Marie and Taylor Anne West sang “Star Spangled Banner,” each clad in red, white and blue dresses.

Between practicing with her band, working with a vocal coach and auditioning and rehearsing for local theater roles, Knapp keeps busy pursuing her goal of becoming a professional musician.

Winning the competition helped boost her confidence about her ability to break into one of the toughest industries.

“I didn’t expect myself to win; hearing everyone else was jaw-dropping,” Knapp said. “But it (winning) was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”

For more information about Knapp and the band Stellar, visit