You have to be incredibly talented and brave to sing Mariah Carey songs with Mimi in the audience.
But Liamani Segura, born and based in Racine, is both of those things and more.
And she’s just 13 years old.
In June, Segura got to perform a medley of Carey songs for the singing legend’s induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York. As if that wasn’t prestigious enough, it was at Carey’s request; the pop diva had called Segura “phenomenal” on Twitter.
Segura nailed the performance — after just two days of practice, her dad Anthony Segura said — and was joined on stage by another singing legend, Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris, who’s become a business partner and who the Racine teen calls “family.”
Their ventures are still under wraps, but Segura already opened for Boyz II Men at the Wisconsin State Fair last year, and earlier this year, got to sing with the group at Summerfest and their hometown concert in Philadelphia.
And now Segura — who’s amassed 414,000 Instagram followers and nearly 20 million views on her YouTube channel with her dazzling singing videos — is making her TV acting debut on “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
Her character, Emmy, first appeared on the second episode of the Disney+ show’s third season, which dropped Wednesday. (New episodes come out every Wednesday on the streaming service, with Segura scheduled to appear again in episodes five and eight.)
“When I got the call, me and my family were all sitting together when they told me that I got cast,” Segura said. “I swear I jumped out of my chair. We were screaming and celebrating. It was one of the best days of my life.”
Thanks to her voice, Segura has been blessed with a lot of great days. She first sang around the house when she was 2, inspired by her favorite song from her favorite movie, “Over The Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz.”
“The only part I knew was, ‘Somewhere over the rainbow,’ and I would sing that part over and over and over,” Segura said.
By 6, when she’d sing the song, Segura said her father recognized that “ahh” in her voice.
“There are no singers in my family that we know of,” Segura said. “God gave me the gift, and I thank him every day for it. I am very blessed and honored to use my gift for the world.”
Segura said her dad, an Army veteran, taught her to sing the national anthem, and following a debut performance at her school talent show, she was recruited to sing the anthem at Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers games. (She’s also performed at the Indy 500 and the NCAA women’s basketball tournament Final Four.)
“Seeing her so small out there in the middle of the Bucks arena, I would be so nervous for her,” Anthony Segura said. “But then she would blow it out of the park every time.”
“We wanted her to have more opportunities than us as parents had,” he said. “But I always wanted her to stay a kid throughout this whole process. … Our goal was to make sure she never felt pressure, we always wanted it to be fun. … As long as she’s happy doing it, we let her do it. ”
A couple of years ago, Segura was allowed to receive praise from Morris, one of music’s most celebrated vocalists. Her mother Joanna saw that Morris was inviting people to sing on Instagram Live, so Segura hopped on there, and Morris was so impressed he invited her to compete in his social media singing competition (she came in second) and ultimately became a collaborator and business partner.
And just as Segura went from being a Morris fan to being a collaborator, she went from being a “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” fan to being a part of the show, as a new character named Emmy.
“She is very, very quiet and doesn’t like to talk, doesn’t like to socialize. She is still in her shell and still very nervous and scared and doesn’t know what to expect at summer camp,” Segura said of her character. “She is trying to find her real voice … and I think she is going to find out she can do a lot more than she thinks she could.”
Appearing on set for her first TV role, Segura said she was “so starstruck” and “so nervous.”
“My heart was pumping so fast. I was like, ‘I’ve got to get it together,'” Segura said. “But I felt so welcomed and loved, and everyone is so kind and they all understood me. … They just made me feel so good.”
Now that she’s added “TV role” to her résumé, Segura is hoping to add Grammys and a sold-out Madison Square Garden show to her list of accomplishments some day.
“I’m trying to always remain humble. That is really what matters,” she said. “Making people cry happy tears … makes me so proud that I am able to do this.”
Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.