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Auditions open for Lincoln County Teen Vocalist

◆ Winner to receive $1,000 prize

Do you know whom Teen Vocalist Judge Shelby Thatcher admires – a lot? Michael Jordan.
The NBA star with more name recognition than Elvis “didn’t make the team” when he tried out for the varsity squad his sophomore year in high school, Thatcher related. “But he worked harder,” and is famous for leading the 1990s Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. In 2020, the shoes from his rookie year auctioned for half a million. As in dollars.

“Being told no doesn’t mean stop. It means keep going,” the longtime Swift Idol and last year’s Teen Vocalist judge told SVI Media. “You look at the music industry, they got told no a hundred times before being told yes.”

This is precisely why Thatcher has a shout-out for youth throughout Lincoln County. Audition for the 2021 Teen Vocalist competition to be held April 16 in Afton and a chance to walk away with a $1000 first prize. Sponsored by Randy Thompson Insurance, the Teen Vocalist competition is also a traditional precursor to the annual Vocalist (formerly known as Swift Idol) contest scheduled in August.

“It’s just inspiring” to see teenagers from throughout the county – from Kemmerer to Alpine – showcase local musical talent, said Thatcher, herself a performer and former college track athlete.

Discussing this year’s Teen Vocalist competition with SVI Media during telephone conversations were Thatcher and Duke Dance, SVI Media general manager for KRSV, KDWY, KMER and KVSI.

“Auditions are [now] wide open,” Dance explained. “We’ll take as many as we can get. [The only qualifications are] you have to live in Lincoln County and you have to be 18 or younger at the time of the audition.”

Which means, he clarified, that if you turn 19 between the audition and the concert you could still compete. The website for Teen Vocalist began accepting audio auditions this week, Monday, March 8; entry deadline is 10 p.m., March 18.

“This is an opportunity for young talent in the valley to be showcased and for the community to support them. It’s the whole county from Kemmerer to Star Valley,” Dance added. “That’s the thing we like about the teen competition is that it’s local. The competition lives here with their families.”

In addition to the $1000 first prize donated by Skyview Lanes and Cineplex, there will be a runner-up prize, yet to be announced.

But again, Thatcher emphasized, the best part about the Teen Vocalist competition for her has not been the winners. To her there are no losers.

“What I wish I’d known as a child, what I’ve learned as a parent, is we as a society put too much emphasis on winning. If these kids [could] understood the failure it takes to eventually achieve your dreams.

“Specifically last year,” she related. “Two girls were the finalists. It was hard. They were both really, really good. I wish both could have won. These are 16-year-old girls. The girl who won [Emma Graham] was so gracious. And the girl who didn’t win was so gracious.

“You don’t see that a lot in this world. You see blaming or giving excuses. I was so proud of both those girls. Even their families were good. That’s really refreshing. There are good people right in our communities, and it’s awesome.”

Thatcher’s favorite part of being a judge? “I love to look in the audience, and I can find their parents instantly. Their faces are beaming. It doesn’t matter if they’re the worst or the best, they’re just proud.”

To audition for the 2021 Teen Vocalist competition, go to There are instructions on uploading a song of your choice. Dance related that each entry is a cappella, and the potential vocalist may submit a song from any genre. In the past, some have even recorded a song on cell phones and uploaded the file.

Those selected for the Teen Vocalist concert on April 16 at 7 p.m., at the high school auditorium will perform for three judges. This year, however, Dance said, there will be “something new.”

Two of the judges will be onstage, while a remote third judge will listen and respond via a blank screen with a question mark in place of a name. Between the first and second round, the surprise judge will be revealed.

The only thing Dance would tell this reporter was “this secret judge is a very recognizable name in music. We can say that people will recognize that person.”

— For more information on the Teen Vocalist competition, see or The Vocalist on Facebook.

Information on Jordan’s shoes came from Some historical information on “His Airness” came from