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Hard work pays off for gifted soloist

A junior at Central High School earns superior ratings at a number of singing competitions.

When you ask him what draws him to the world of music, 17-year-old Michael Flateau has a readied answer that he has obviously pondered for quite some time.

"I think music is a celebration of my life," the Central High junior said. "I get such a joy from singing that I think it carries over into everything I do during my day."

Most people at Central High School agree that everything Michael does, he does well. He is the school's top academic junior, is an active community service volunteer and is a member of several on-campus committees and clubs.

And of course, he has one of the most celebrated singing voices in the school's history.

During the past few months Michael has earned top honors around the district and state as both a soloist and ensemble singer and was among a distinct ensemble of voices chosen for the American Choral Directors Association's Southern Division Honors Choir.

"It's been a great year for me," the tall, shy teenager said. "I accomplished a lot more than I ever dreamed of."

Which is quite a lot when you consider that Michael never really thought much about his voice until he entered high school. His older sister had sung in the Central High choir, and it was at one of her performances a few years back that he heard a choral version of pop singer James Taylor's That Lonesome Road.

"The harmony was so beautiful," he said. "I fell in love with choral music right then.

In his freshman year at Central, he joined the mixed chorus and immediately caught the ear of his teacher, Celinda Bailey.

"Mike had a real inner passion for singing," she said. "It just seemed like the more he was challenged, the better he got."

Because of that, Bailey began encouraging her student to develop himself as a soloist. She recommended a voice coach and worked with him individually as well.

The hard work paid off. Last year, Michael earned his first superior rating in the District V Choral Festival's solo competition. He earned a superior rating as a member of the school's barbershop, octet and chamber choir ensembles as well.

This spring he repeated his success at the district festival and was invited to compete at the state festival. Needless to say, he was a bit unnerved by the experience at first.

"Judging at the state level is so precise. They don't forgive much," he said. "I was singing a song in Italian, and I just prayed that I remembered everything I had practiced."

Michael earned the prestigious superior honor, which he considers his crowning achievement as a singer.

This month, Michael got an opportunity to hone his budding acting skills as well with a starring role in the school production of Once On This Island.

"It was a lot of fun because I haven't done a lot of stage productions. Hopefully, I can do more of them next year."

Michael hopes to attend Florida State University after graduation. He is currently dual-enrolled at Pasco-Hernando Community College, and he plans to double major in music and either psychology or sociology.

"Being able to teach music is probably my ultimate goal," he said. "I'd love to be able to take some of the inspiration I've gotten and pass it to others."

NAME: Michael Flateau

AGE: 17

SCHOOL: Central High School

PARENTS: Greg and Holly Flateau

FAVORITE SUBJECTS: chorus, piano

HOBBIES: reading, drawing, music