RACINE — Talk about bringing down the house.
But that’s just what 6-year-old Liamani Segura did Thursday night when she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” to a crowd of about 1,300 at the St. Catherine’s High School basketball game to thunderous applause and a crowd of swarming well-wishers that caught the normally shy little girl a little off guard.
It was a near flawless performance, complete with vocal inflection and poise. And all without a voice lesson or any participation in an organized musical activity, her parents said.
In fact, it was just her second performance before a live audience outside the family home. The first was also a performance of the National Anthem on Feb. 13 at the variety show at St. Joseph’s School, 1525 Erie St., where Liamani is a kindergartner.
Her parents, Anthony and Joanna Segura of Racine, said that a parent at St. Joseph’s with a son at St. Catherine’s sent a video clip of Liamani’s performance to St. Catherine’s Athletic Director Corey Scheel. That put the wheels in motion for Thursday’s performance.
Singing just comes naturally for Liamani, who started singing around the house when she would sing along with her favorite movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” She didn’t know all the words, said Joanna Segura, 32, a registered nurse, but would repeat favorite choruses.
“I like singing. I started singing when I was 3,” said Liamani.
Neither of her parents have much experience with musical performance, but music is a big part of the Segura household, said Anthony Segura, 33, a disabled Army veteran.
“We’re always listening to music. We have a big speaker in our living room and we have surround sound. We just have so much fun, we just dance together. My wife and I dance and we try to teach them how to dance to salsa and merengue music,” Anthony Segura said. “Music is a big part of our life. It’s huge. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t listen to music.”
The music performances in the house include Liamani singing into her dad’s flashlight as if it were a microphone and 2-year-old brother, Anthony, singing along in toddler dialect. Big sister Anaya is the jock of the family, Anthony Segura said, and has enjoyed success on the soccer field, with school spelling bees and a recent Knights of Columbus poster contest. Anaya is proud of her sister’s recent success, her dad said.
“We’re proud; we’ve been blessed,” Anthony Segura said of his and Joanna’s children.
Liamani has taught herself, a lot of it from watching musical videos on YouTube. A big favorite right now is the song “The Story” from a musical episode of the long-running TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.” Anthony Segura said Liamani has perfected the performance so well she even has the facial expressions and vocal inflections of the song’s performer, actress Sara Ramirez. Anthony Segura says he has to laugh hearing his daughter sing a song that recounts the life struggles of Ramirez’s TV character, Dr. Callie Torres.
“We watch Whitney Houston on the videos,” Liamani added.
Liamani’s performances at the basketball game and the variety show have put her in demand. She is scheduled to do an encore performance of the National Anthem at Saturday night’s Miss Racine pageant. And the family is mulling a request for Liamani to sing at Thursday’s Park High School basketball game.
While the Seguras are proud of their daughter’s musical accomplishments, they say there does come a time when they have to ask their daughter to pipe down a bit.
“It gets to a point where ‘Enough is enough; go do homework or read a book or watch TV or something,’ ” Joanna Segura said.