Vocal powerhouse continues achieving greatness

HARLINGEN — Like all of us, Gabby Rae Garza’s plans have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Still, again like so many, the high-octane singer/actress from the Harlingen Performing Arts Conservatory has found a way to persevere.

Gabby, 17, has many reasons to persevere. The young singer was named a finalist in March at the Joci Awards presented by the Las Casas Foundation in San Antonio. That success qualified her to compete in the The National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards, in New York City later this year.

The pandemic has made that impossible, but she’ll still get to compete in virtual time for scholarship money.

“ I feel honored to have become a Las Casas finalist,” said Gabby, a senior. “They continue to make dreams become a reality for children wanting to pursue a career in performance.”

Gabby, who is in the musical theater track at the Conservatory, delivered a compelling performance as Abuela Claudio in last year’s “In the Heights.” That performance provided an “in” to the Las Casas competition.

“We asked them if they could come watch our show and they decided that they would,” Gabby recalled. “They watched and they said that I was eligible for a leading character.”

She and two other local students competed March 9.

“I auditioned with songs from that show,” she said.

And that show was a thing to be remembered.

“I finally got a job working as a maid,” she’d sung so eloquently in her smock, poignantly alone on the stage.

“We clean some homes, scrubbing the whole of the upper east side, the days into weeks, the weeks into years, now at 55, my hands begin to shake and as I say these words, my heart’s about to break.”

She carried that same power into her presentation in March and it worked. She learned the following day she’d been named a finalist for the leading actress in a musical performance in New York City. Sadly, that’s not going to happen, but other things will.

“There’s still a scholarship opportunity for me,” she said. “Every student is given between $2,000 and $50,000. It’s not until May. We’re still going to be in a competition but it’s going to be virtual and I will find out how much money I will be offered.”

While Gabby was a hit during “In The Heights”, she’s been impressing audiences for years. Most recently, she and two other powerful singers performed the National Anthem at a Spurs game at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Gabby has big plans for the future and has already been accepted to several colleges: Boston Conservatory, Point Park University, Oklahoma University, Roosevelt University and Long Island University. She hasn’t decided which one yet.