Barely a teen, Orange County, Calif., native Umi Garrett has already performed for audiences across the globe with her prodigy-like piano talent.
From Germany to Italy, Latvia to Panama, the 13-year-old musician strikes piano keys at unbelievable speed, leaving those who hear her concerts questioning her young age.
She will soon add North Carolina to her list of performance locations as she is set to fill the Lincoln Cultural Center’s Timken Performance Hall this evening with classical melodies.
It is her first trip to the Southern state.
Garrett, who is half Japanese, said she first took up her favorite instrument at age 4.
From the very beginning, her skills were anything but amateur.
“From the start, I used both hands,” she said innocently, as though her proficiency with piano proved as natural to her as breathing.
Three years after the teen began playing, she increased the seriousness of her musical hobby and entered the concert realm at age 9, the same year she released her debut album, she said.
However, a year earlier Garrett appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
While she admitted to being a tiny bit nervous about meeting the comical talk show host, she valued the opportunity to showcase her advanced talent on national television, gaining exposure that propelled her career to an unprecedented level.
“It was fun,” she said.
She not only boasts a number of awards and achievements but also now performs both on her own and in combination with symphony orchestras worldwide.
Garrett laughed when asked if anyone else in her family maintained musical skills.
“No,” she said. “Not at all.”
While piano hasn’t been the sole instrument in her life — she dabbled in violin from ages 6 to 10 — it survived her changing interests over the years and continues to captivate both her and her audiences.
Playing for others is her primary passion.
“To get to play music for other people and have them listen,” she pointed out, “it’s really nice.”
Because Garrett’s musical schedule has increased in busyness, she transitioned last year from private school to homeschool, now taking online courses.
She is currently working on her second album, set to be released sometime between the end of 2013 and early 2014.
The Lincoln County Concert Association is sponsoring the teen’s local concert, which will be the first show of the new LCCA season, President Allen Hubbard said.
Garrett noted the Lincolnton show would also be her third in a series of eight concerts in two weeks across the East Coast.
She considered this month’s high volume of performances to be her “first big tour.”
In addition to a scheduled show Saturday in Statesville, she will play venues throughout Virginia, Georgia and Pennsylvania, performing her favorite song, Frederic Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor,” for each crowd.
The concert will start 7:30 p.m. today at the Cultural Center.
Tickets may be purchased at the door as early as 6:45 p.m. Cost is $20 for adults and $5 for students.
For more information, call (704) 735-7287.
To learn more about Umi Garrett’s rise to fame, visit umigarrett.com.