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Talent Showcase winner Micah Garrido wows judges with ukulele performance

By Eileen P. Duggan

Originally published in the West End Word, June 17, 2011

Micah Garrido of St. Louis plays his ukulele.

When Micah Manaitai Garrido’s music teacher, Dwayne Bosman at Crossroads College Preparatory School, suggested he enter a talent competition, he wasn’t overly enthused.

“I was kind of skeptical, but as soon as he mentioned the Fox, I agreed to it,” said Micah, a South St. Louis resident who is originally from Guam.

Micah, 15, took first place in the St. Louis Teen Talent Showcase, held at the Fox Theatre May 6. The show aired on KETC Channel 9 May 23 and May 28.

In April, Micah won the preliminary talent contest at Crossroads, where he is in the 10th grade. He is the son of Ann Garrido, an associate professor at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, and Michael Garrido, a mission administrator for the Peace Health Care System who is currently commuting to Seattle.

Crossroads, 500 DeBaliviere Ave. in St. Louis, was one of 50 schools that participated in the competition, organized by the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation. The KETC broadcasts of the finals were underwritten by St. Louis Community College.

Micah played George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on an amplified ukulele he found tucked away in his grandparent’s home in Guam three years ago. Micah soon began teaching himself the Beatles song by ear, using Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro’s arrangement as a guide.

After almost three years, “it’s still a work in progress,” he said. Although he doesn’t take ukulele lessons, Micah studied violin for four years with Suzuki teacher Ed Sprunger and plays “guitar, bass, a little piano, a few drum beats and the Native American pentatonic flute.”

Micah is no stranger to performance, having played in school musicals and as a volunteer lobby musician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Berea, Kentucky, last summer. He is often found playing his ukulele in the glassed main entrance of the school to take advantage of the acoustics, a Crossroads official said.

A few weeks after the finals, Micah still had a hard time believing he won. He made friends backstage with the other contestants, and “mostly I wanted to not fall over onstage,” he said. His winnings include a $5,000 scholarship and $2,000 cash for his school.

A dance troupe from Hazelwood East won second place, a $3,500 scholarship and $2,000 school cash prize; and Grace Seidel of Villa Duschene won third place, a $2,000 scholarship and $2,000 school cash prize.

The six-member panel of judges included such entertainment heavyweights as Steve Woolf, artistic director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Broadway producer Mike Isaacson; and The Office actress Phyllis Smith.

KETC loaned digital video cameras to the contestants to document their journey through the competition. The videos can be viewed on the NineNetwork website (http://www.ketc.org/teentalentshowcase/), or the Fox Performing Arts’ SchoolTube Channel (http://www.schooltube.com/user/FoxPACF).

Micah’s winning performance also can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgEGasKIkhw.

The top 12 finalists have been invited to perform at various events around town throughout the year. The contestants performed at the Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Greenshow in Forest Park, the Art & Air Festival in Webster Groves, The Muny’s Lichtenstein Plaza and other events.

“I want to say thank you to Kathryn Ballard and the Performing Arts Foundation because it was really fun, and the experiences we had and the people we got to meet were great,” Micah said. “And playing at the Fox was just icing on the cake.”

As for that scholarship, Micah and his parents will start looking at colleges next year. His career plans are yet to be determined. “I’d love to be a musician,” he said, “but I have a feeling there are other things I’m called to do.”

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Photo courtesy of Crossroads College Preparatory School.

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