Kamiak event to showcase student talent

Guitarist James Lee excited to perform with musical friends
By Nicholas Johnson | Mar 29, 2017
Photo by: Nicholas Johnson James Lee, a junior at Kamiak High School, plays his guitar on campus Monday, March 27. Lee is set to perform three songs, each with a different friend, during a talent show Friday night, March 31.

When Kamiak High School junior James Lee spotted a flyer for an upcoming talent show at his school, he saw an opportunity to perform with his friends.

“It’s not really about me,” said Lee, who has played guitar since seventh grade. “I want to show off my friends. They are very talented people.”

Lee is set to perform three songs, each alongside a different friend. He’ll perform two duets: “Saigo no Bansan” (The Last Supper) by Depapepe with junior Mason Harrington, and “Simple, Starving To Be Safe” by Daphne Loves Derby with junior Christian Carstea.

“We had five days to learn this extremely hard song,” Lee said of “Saigo no Bansan,” noting that he was nervous performing it during auditions. “It’s a really difficult guitar duet piece.”

The other duet, he said, is a favorite song of his that represents his preferred style of play: mellow, reflective acoustic music.

“It’s a very mellow song,” he said of “Simple, Starving To Be Safe.” “It has really helped me therapeutically. When I introduced it to my friends, they loved it.”

Lee will also accompany vocalist Ohn Sihim Kim, a senior at Kamiak, on “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley.

That makes three of a total 12 performances that Lee has a hand in, all of which are musical in nature. For example, performances will include modern and classical instrumental piano pieces.

A panel of five faculty members will judge the performances and award first-, second- and third-place trophies. For his part, Lee said he’s not in it for accolades.

“I’ve had people compliment me before and tell me I’m good, but these three friends of mine haven’t had the recognition they deserve,” he said.

“I really look up to Mason Harrington, who hasn’t played for as long as me but he’s so much better than me. Christian started playing last year and he has learned so fast. He’s so committed.”

Lee said he played piano and violin as child, but eventually found them to be too formal for his taste. Now, he typically plays his guitar alone or for small groups of friends, or he sits at the beach and plays for passersby. He’s yet to perform as part of an organized show.

“The guitar is mentally healing for me,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of problems in life that I got through with music. I’ll stay up until 4 a.m. sitting on my bed just playing wherever my fingers go. I’ll play the same song over and over, adding something each time and finding my style.”

Lee said came to be friends with Harrington, Carstea and Kim over the last year.

“I met them recently and I’m so glad I did because now I can practice not just by myself but with them, too,” he said. “This is a good reason to play music with my friends.”

He said participating in events like the talent show or any after school program can help students develop skills outside the classroom.

“There are so many musicians out there who think they sound good, but they haven’t had enough feedback to really know,” he said. “This is a way to share my work with other people and get feedback and up my confidence. It’s a good thing for young musicians in high school to actually perform on a stage.”

Lee said he’s not sure what he’ll do after high school, but he’s sure music will be a part of it.

“I definitely want to keep playing music, whatever I end up doing.”


Kamiak’s Got Talent

Kamiak High School’s junior class invites the community to the school’s first-ever talent show from 7-9 p.m. Friday, March 31, in the Performing Arts Center at 10801 Harbour Pointe Blvd. in Mukilteo. Admission is $10.

For Tickets, visit the school’s Main Office during school lunch periods or call the bookkeeper at 425-366-5428 to pre-order tickets, which can be picked up in the Main Office weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Tickets will also be available at the door. Proceeds benefit Kamiak’s Associated Student Body.


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