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Hello, I'm Juanny Cash

Watch 15-year-old Vince Mira pay homage to the Man in Black with a rendition of ‘Folsom Prison Blues.’ This video was shot Dec. 7 at Foundation House in Federal Way. (read the story below)

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By MARGO HORNER, The Mirror

“American Idol” wanna-bes, listen up: The best place to be discovered as an up-and-coming star may not be the popular television show, but instead the sidewalk at the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

It worked for Federal Way’s Vince Mira, 15.

Mira was discovered in March singing Johnny Cash songs for tips at the market by restaurant owner and entertainment producer Chris Snell.

Snell offered Mira a gig singing at the Can Can, a popular Seattle club and restaurant.

Since then, Snell has become Mira’s manager, and the teen has performed in a variety of Seattle area venues, completed a full-length album and recorded with Stone Gossard, a guitarist for the Seattle band Pearl Jam, on a Hank Williams tribute CD.

Mira sings renditions of Johnny Cash songs so well, he earned himself the nickname Juanny Cash.

He’s performed on the Ellen DeGeneres show, “Good Morning America,” KOMO Channel 4 news, the Univision Spanish television network and KMPS.

His album, “Cash Cabin Sessions,” was produced by John Carter Cash — Johnny Cash’s son — and will be released in February 2008.

The quick rise toward stardom hasn’t tainted Mira’s modest, amiable personality.

On Dec. 7, Mira played for a group of residents at the Foundation House retirement home in Federal Way, where his brother Isaac Miranda works. It wasn’t his first time performing in front of an elderly crowd. Before he was discovered, Mira performed frequently at retirement homes throughout the Federal Way area.

On Friday, Mira said he was excited about all the attention he’s been getting as well as his coming album.

“Whatever happens, I’m ready for it,” he said.

One of the perks of getting so many gigs, Mira said, is that he won’t have to get a summer job at McDonald’s. He’s been making $200 to $300 in tips every Tuesday night at the Can Can.

“If I have to get a summer job, I’d rather do something I like to do and get paid for it,” he said.

Mira is a student at Federal Way’s Internet Academy, taking all of his classes from home. He is one of seven children. He chose the stage name Vince Mira because his real name, Vinnie Miranda, was already being used by a performer in California.

Mira plays Johnny Cash songs because he listened to the popular country artist growing up and became a fan.

“Everybody likes Johnny Cash,” he said, adding that fans of all genres of music seem to enjoy Johnny Cash. “He was that great.”

It was exciting to work with Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, recording songs at the Cash Cabin in Hendersonville, Tenn., Mira said. The Cash Cabin Studio is just outside of Nashville, and it is the location where the late Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash recorded most of their later work.

While in Tennessee, Mira went to Nashville to have a shirt made for him by Manuel Cuevas, a designer famous for his rhinestone-studded rock-star attire worn by Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Mick Jagger, John Travolta and other superstars.

“The big guys, the legends, he did all their clothes and now he’s doing my clothes,” Mira said, beaming with pride.

The audience members at Foundation House on Friday said they figure Mira is on the way to becoming a legend himself. There was lots of foot-tapping and smiling while the teen played.

LanaLu Hull, 84, said she has traveled all over the country in her years and of all the performers she’s seen, Mira is one of the best.

“I’ve been around so I figure I have a pretty good idea that he really is a marvelous performer,” Hull said.

“His poise, for a 15-year-old, he’s really amazing,” she said. “He’s very good and I predict that he’s going to be very famous.”

Ray Ogden, 79, said he and the other residents had been anticipating Mira’s arrival since hearing his brother talk proudly about him.

“It’s such a neat deal to finally get him here because he’s going places, there’s no doubt about it,” Ogden said. “He’s very astonishing. I hope we get to see him again, that he doesn’t get so popular that we don’t get to participate a bit.”

The young performer might become popular with the girls as well, according to Mary Lakshas, 94.

“He’s a cute little guy,” she said.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

For more information about Vince Mira, visit www.vincemira.com.

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