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Nicole Kato

An Injury Ends On A Happy Note

Mike Izon was serious about tennis until a back injury took him out of the game. So he traded his racquet for a guitar, and it’s a good thing he did

There’s no doubt that singer-songwriter Mike Izon is all about his family, which he says is the inspiration behind his love of music – despite never taking a lesson. He credits much of his work ethic to mother Michelle and father Zachary, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“My dad has always been an amazingly focused guy,” says Izon, a 2008 graduate of Leilehua High School. “He used to play in bands, but now he is unable to because of his illness, so I want to (perform) for him.”

The rest of the Izon ohana also is very involved in music. Izon claims that many of his family members are musicians and/or singers, so being around music on a constant basis allowed his talents to thrive.

This Whitmore Village resident has taken his love of music to the national stage to win Kollaboration’s Star 2012 Finale Nov. 16 in Glendale, Calif. He competed against six others from different cities around the U.S., and had the opportunity to represent Kollaboration (a nonprofit organization that serves to provide Asian and Pacific Islanders a platform on which they can showcase their talents) at the 2012 MNET Asian Music Awards (MAMA) in Hong Kong, where he performed Set Fire to the Rain by Adele.

“I got to walk down the red carpet,” Izon explained. “The fact that it was in Hong Kong was awesome in itself. I can’t believe I got to be a part of something so huge.”

Izon competed in the first Kollaboration Honolulu competition Aug. 18 at Mamiya Theatre, and his success there propelled him to the national competition.

“It was an amazing shock to me that I made it to the finals (in California), but it goes to show you, believing can go a far way … and votes, as well,” he says.

But for Izon, winning wasn’t the only great thing.

MNET and Kollaboration flew his parents to California to see the show, and that was the best part of all.

“I can’t explain how happy it made me feel,” Izon says.

His life has taken many twists and turns, and it was his experience playing tennis while at Leilehua High that changed his life. The well-rounded Izon played football during his freshman year of high school, but admits he was never good at it. He then made the transition to judo, and then tennis, which he played until his senior year.

“I was pretty good at it and I loved the challenge of it,” Izon recalls. “But then in 2009 I found out that I had two slipped discs in my lower spine.”

A year later he lost the ability to use his left calf and could no longer run. While recovering from surgery in 2010, he picked up his guitar and honed his skills as a vocalist and musician.

“Without the injury to my back, I wouldn’t be playing music as a serious thing,” he says. “In a way, I’m almost thankful for that injury to my back.”

And he hasn’t looked, well, back.

Before his national appearance last month, Izon was a working musician trying to nab as many gigs as possible, whether it be at parties, weddings or bars. And while he wasn’t playing regularly at a local establishment, he still was singing, playing and recording.

On Oct. 9 he released his first album, Book of Cliches, which is available on iTunes. You also can hear his music on his YouTube channel (eyeson-mike).

Now that he’s back home, he plans to work harder than ever.

“I want to let everyone in Hawaii know who I am, what I stand for and that I’m hungry for more,” says Izon, who is planning tours of the Mainland as well as Asia.

For now, he’s playing at venues around Oahu, and those interested in seeing this national star perform can check him out on Facebook. He’ll be playing Dec. 28 at Tobura Art Gallery in Waikiki from 7 to 9 p.m.

“I enjoy that you can take any emotion, any feeling, and put it into a song and change someone’s life forever,” says Izon, who has been singing since he could make noise. “I am super lucky to do what I love for a living.”

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