Morgan Mielke is well known around the Garland Business District. The 13-year-old girl has won the Judy Garland sing-alike contest twice, during the annual street fair, and her mom Tracy Mielke is a tireless volunteer for the neighborhood.
On Saturday, Morgan will step on a bigger stage when she competes in the finals of the “Got Talent Spokane?” show at the Bing. Morgan has been singing since she could talk, and she’s already picked her song for Saturday.
“I will be signing ‘There Are Worse I Things I Could Do’ from Grease,” said Morgan, sitting at the Rocket Bakery on Monday morning during spring break. “I thought of a couple of different songs, but my family voted for that one.”
“Got Talent Spokane?” is a benefit for the Fulcrum Institute Dispute Resolution Clinic, a nonprofit that runs mediation programs and Interchange, a program that helps families coordinate and set up court-ordered supervised visits.
“There are thousands of families in Spokane who need this service,” said Judith Gilmore, director of program development for the Fulcrum Institute.
Gilmore said the nonprofit first thought of bringing in a big personality and selling tickets for an evening at The Bing, but found most too expensive.
“A couple fell through because we simply couldn’t pay for them,” said Gilmore. “Some of the personalities who otherwise wouldn’t be called on so much, have found new venues at casinos, and all of a sudden nonprofits are up against the wall.”
That’s how the idea for a local talent show was born, and soon 45 people had signed up for the first audition.
“That took 11 hours. We ended up staying until 9 p.m. that night,” said Gilmore.
Originally the plan was for 12 finalists but judges ended up selecting 15.
“Some were just so good, we were blown away,” said Gilmore, adding that the winner gets $1,250. “So we are awarding local money to local people.” Among the other finalists are Kyle Wilson, a stand-up comedian, and Angela Pierson, who’s a tap dancer. And there’s 14-year-old Erwen (Alex) Zhu who plays classical piano – blindfolded.
“It was open to all talents and all ages, and we sure got it all,” said Gilmore.
Morgan is looking forward to Saturday and she hopes she gets to sing her second song, Hilary Duff’s “Someone’s Watching Over Me,” because that means she’ll be one of three finalists.
And Morgan can relate to the lyrics of Duff’s hit song: “So I won’t give up, no I won’t break down, sooner than it seems life turns round, and I will be strong even if it all goes wrong,” because she was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in 2008 and has spent long periods in the hospital.
“It makes my joints hurt and swell up, and then I had an allergic reaction to some of the medications,” said Morgan, explaining that her skin peeled and peeled and at one point she lost most of her hair. “It’s just tough sometimes.”
The year she was diagnosed she wasn’t able to return to school until around Thanksgiving. She’s now in seventh grade at Glover Middle School where she is in the advanced choir group.
“I just sing from the time I get up until I go to bed,” said Morgan.
She writes some of her own music, too. When her grandmother died last year, she wrote a song to her and sang it at the funeral.
So who’s her biggest idol?
“John Lennon. I have posters all over my room with John Lennon,” said Morgan. “He didn’t care what other people thought; he stood up for what he thought was right.”