La PORTE – Concert-goers left in awe after Saturday’s breathtaking Hoosier STAR finals at the La Porte Civic Auditorium, the 14th anniversary of the popular regional singing competition.

Five finalists from the adult and youth divisions took the stage to compete for cash prizes and the ability to perform with the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra during next year’s benefit concert.

Hoosier STAR winners are determined by votes cast by audience members. Those in attendance voted for their favorite performances from each division, which accounted for 75 percent of the total. The remaining 25 percent was reserved for the three judges.

All performances were accompanied by the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra, led by Grammy-nominated conductor Alastair Willis.

A stunning rendition of “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith/James Napier earned Michigan City's Joe Stewart first place in this year’s Hoosier STAR adult competition. Stewart’s visible confidence got the crowd clapping along with the symphony’s percussion, and his vocal mastery kept them engaged throughout the performance.

Stewart, a La Porte native and 2017 Hoosier STAR finalist, and said he was pleased to win, but, despite his onstage demeanor, was a bit nervous before the performance.

“I prayed a lot before I went on stage. I think that might have helped,” he said.

Seventeen-year-old Chesterton High School student Rebecca Lane won the Youth Division. Her emotional cover of Etta James’ “At Last” by Harry Warren/Mack Gordon won over the audience, and earned her a $500 cash prize.

Lane reflected on her performance, saying “it was incredible, everyone is so amazing. It was such a great opportunity – getting to perform with the orchestra and such amazing people.”

She is looking forward to coming back and performing at next year’s competition.

Runner-ups in both divisions were awarded second place trophies. Hobart native Billy Cox’s memorable performance of “Drink in My Hand” by Eric Church won runner-up in the Adult Division.

Precocious 13-year-old Ella Moon from Crown Point was announced as the Youth Division runner-up after showcasing her powerful vocals on  “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.

All finalists were recognized and given trophies for their performances.

Auditions for next year’s Hoosier STAR competition are expected to be conducted in March 2020.

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