HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A young lady from Bay St. Louis hopes to perform her way to the top of a national classical piano competition. She's Mississippi's gold medal winner in the National Music Teachers Association's classical piano performance competition. On Monday, 16-year-old Gabriella Loiacano will tickling the ivory in Louisville Kentucky in hopes of winning the top prize at the Southern Division Finals.
"My goal is to get up there and do my best," said Gabriella.
She began taking piano lessons when she was just 7-years-old. But she says her talent comes from a higher power.
"I believe that this gift of playing the piano was given to me by my Lord and savior. So I love to play for him. I serve as a keyboardist at my church, the Church of the Good Shepard. And I love playing music for him and I love playing classical music because it really is a beautiful thing," said Loiacano.
WLOX News caught up with Gabriella during a practice performance she put on at the Hancock County Senior Citizens Complex.
"I'm just here to share my gift with my community, they rarely get to hear live music so I know it's a treat for them," explained Loiacano.
To prepare for the division finals she practiced anywhere from two and a half to four hours a day.
"It's a lot of time, but practice makes perfect."
Gabriella isn't sure what she plans to do with her talent in the future, but teaching music and concert performance are both options. Wherever she ends up, her piano teacher at Hidden Acres Music School in Pass Christian believes she will be a huge success.
"I'm so proud that this caliber of young woman is going to be representing Mississippi... Mississippi should be proud," said Piano Teacher Carol Mahler.
Loiacano said she hopes that prayer and her lucky pearls will help her out-shine her competitors. If she wins during the divisional finals Monday, she will represent Mississippi in the National finals held in Chicago in March. That's where a college scholarship will be at stake.