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December 21, 2014

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‘Million Dollar Quartet’ star Felice Garcia: Girls Rock Vegas creates a band and a future

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Denise Truscello/WireImage/DeniseTruscello.net

Felice Garcia performs during Mark Shunock’s “Mondays Dark,” benefiting Nevada SPCA, at Vinyl on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in the Hard Rock Hotel.

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Miss Tropicana Felice Garcia.

‘Million Dollar Quartet’ With Frankie Moreno

The cast of Million Dollar Quartet and guest Frankie Moreno thank the audience after their show at Harrah's Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013. Launch slideshow »

'Million Dollar Quartet' Grand Opening at Harrah's

Robert Lyons, Carla Pellegrino, Martin Kaye, Marc Donovan, Felice Garcia, Tyler Hunter and Ben Hale at the grand opening of Launch slideshow »

As Robin Leach ends his annual summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip personalities have again stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. As Robin gets ready to pick up pen, notepad and tape recorder to resume his Strip coverage, we continue today with “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s stars Felicia Garcia, Martin Kaye and Benjamin D. Hale. Here’s Felice.

Once upon a time, I entered a local pageant and won the title of Miss Henderson. But that’s another story for another day. As part of my platform for Miss Henderson, I was a big supporter of keeping arts and music in education.

I was asked to be a volunteer bandleader for a music camp called Girls Rock Vegas. Girls Rock Vegas is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is part of the International Girls Rock Camp Alliance. In addition to in-school programs, they host a weeklong camp every June for girls ages 9 to 17.

Most of the girls have never touched a musical instrument before in their lives. The girls are split into bands, and each girl is assigned an instrument — guitar, bass, keyboard or drums.

The goal throughout the week is to write an original song and perform it at the end-of-camp showcase in front of their family and friends. For most of the girls, this is the first time that they will perform in front of an audience.

Each camp day starts with instrument instruction. During the lunch break, the girls are treated to short concerts from local musicians such as Roxy Gunn, Rhyme and Rhythm, Mother Wild, Coco Jenkins and Dusty Sunshine.

Then the girls are given time with their bands to write what will be, for most, the first song they’ve ever written. This camp helps girls build self-esteem and confidence through music education. The girls learn how to work positively in a team environment by being in a band with other girls their age.

The girls learn confidence by being onstage in front of their peers. Their creativity skills are fostered by having to write an original song — music and lyrics. They are introduced to positive female role models in music and entertainment.

I am proud to say that I have been one of these role models for a few years now. Being a part of this camp is truly a joy and so much fun! It is so exciting to watch these girls create a band and write a song about how annoying little brothers can be. The Nevada Arts Council, the International House of Blues Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts fund Girls Rock Vegas.

I also am proud to say that I am part of the cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Million Dollar Quartet” at Harrah’s. Our producers graciously agreed to give free tickets to the entire camp and staff to watch our show June 26. This was the first time seeing a professional show in a theater for most of the girls.

Without this camp, many of these girls might not be introduced to music. Without music, many of these girls might not stay in school. Music education enhances cognitive development, as well as math and reading skills.

Learning how to play an instrument improves memory, and it engages the left and right brain. It also has been proven that students who have music as part of their core education score higher on standardized tests.

If it weren’t for music, I may not have stayed in school to pursue higher education. And I wouldn’t be where I am today, living my dream performing onstage every night.

Be sure to read our other “Million Dollar Quartet” star guest columns today from Martin Kaye and Benjamin D. Hale. On Tuesday, it’s time for the Venetian’s “Rock of Ages” stars Mark Shunock, Tiffany Engen, Becca Korte and Justin Mortelliti.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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