This Inside Joke is Headed for the Mainstream

By Richard Mineards   |   June 10, 2021

Santa Barbara High Junior singer Sydney Rae is going global!

A self-taught musician who plays guitar, bass, and ukulele, says she has been singing since she could talk, naturally leading to the launch of her first original song “Inside Jokes” on Spotify, one of the world’s largest music streaming service providers, with more than 356 million monthly active users, including 158 million paying subscribers.

“People can listen internationally which is absolutely huge,” says Sydney.

The 17-year-old, who attended the summer program at the Berklee College of Music in Boston two years ago, is returning to the East Coast again this summer for a five-week program in performance, songwriting, and music composition.

She already has an impressive entertainment resume as a member of the MAD Academy, a “school within a school” at Santa Barbara High, as well as singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with Doobie Brother Michael McDonald and Glen Phillips at a Human Rights Watch dinner in 2018. The following year, at the same HRW event, she teamed with Montecito’s Kenny Loggins in a version of the late John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Sydney also performed at Santa Barbara Middle School’s “Songfest” for three consecutive years and has joined forces with Nashville singer, songwriter, producer Trey Schafer for the three-minute, 18-second long “Inside Jokes.”

Local warbler and former Dos Pueblos High student Katy Perry may well be shaking in her Christian Louboutins!

New World Cash Meets Old World Living

Prominent financier Scott Casto, a co-founder of the Chicago-based investment firm Pondera Holdings, has paid $16.3 million for the over-the-top, amenity laden Italianate mansion, Villa Bencista.

The East Mountain Drive estate was formerly owned by producer-screenwriter Rob Allyn and his wife, Monica, who paid $13.7 million, and added $2.5 million worth of improvements before returning to their home state of Texas.

Casto and his wife, Janell, who have long owned a designer mansion in the bucolic Chicago suburb of Wheaton, was represented in our rarefied enclave’s purchase by Marsha Kotlyar of Berkshire Hathaway.

The sprawling four-acre estate was built in 2002 with a trio of structures totaling an expansive 12,200 square feet, including the new house, with six bedrooms and nine-and-a-half baths, and a couple of poolside guest houses.

The mansion offers 10,300 square feet of Old World-style living.

Money is No Object

Mason Morfit, a top financial honcho and former Microsoft board member, has splashed out $9.2 million — $2 million above the asking price — for the Montecito estate Monte Bello.

His newly acquired 7,749-square-foot, six-bedroom, seven-bath home on .92 acres, was designed by noted architect Winsor Soule in 1917 near Butterfly Beach.

Morfit, CEO and chief financial officer of San Francisco-based ValueAct Capital, is probably best known to the public as the beau of Fast and Furious actress Jordana Brewster

He and his ex-wife, Anna, continue to own a number of other homes, including another multi-million-dollar estate in our rarefied enclave, and properties in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Park City, and L.A.’s charming Los Feliz neighborhood.

Morfit was represented by Emily Kellenberger of Village Properties.

Notting Turns Out to be a Nothing

Montecito actress Gwyneth Paltrow is closing her London Goop store after it reportedly lost $1,546,000 in the wake of the pandemic.

The Oscar winner, 48, opened her shop in oh-so trendy Notting Hill in 2018, but it has been closed since October.

Paltrow founded Goop — which has an estimated worth of $250 million — in 2008.

The chain also has branches in New York, San Francisco, Brentwood, Sag Harbor on Long Island, and the Rosewood Miramar.


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