YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero, Michael Kermec, was nominated by fellow musician Larry Christopher.
Kermec is the founder of the Youngstown Music Awards, which was held for the first time on Nov. 30 at Rodeo Music Hall in Austintown.
Kermec and Ashley Miller, who make up the duo the Perfect Pair, recently entertained the Friday night dinner crowd at Crickets Bar and Grille on the south side of Youngstown.
“We had a packed house, probably around 1,000 people there,” Kermec said of the awards show. “Everyone there talked about the electricity in the room. It was just a bunch of musicians, from the 60s on up to today just networking, having a great time.”
The Youngstown Music Awards were so packed that people were turned away at the door. Everyone there, including Christopher, were overwhelmingly impressed.
“I watched this guy have an idea that was almost impossible and he pulled it off with just the most amazing results with the Youngstown Music Awards and he deserves it. He went through a lot of adversity to get that done and he is a leader. He is someone that should be celebrated as a hero,” Christopher said.
Kermec is a 1996 Girard High School graduate who was introduced to music at a young age.
“Little high school bands where we would play cover songs and popular songs, basically in my parents’ basement. That is where I got my start,” Kermec said.
The idea for the Youngstown Music Awards came to him about this time last year. They do something similar in Erie, Pa.
“Well I said why can’t Youngstown have something like that. Why can’t we do something that grabs some of the local musicians that are out there busting their butts every weekend entertaining these crowds. Why can’t we show them a little bit of appreciation and get them some recognition,” Kermec said.
He donated part of the profits to the Creative Bridge Coalition, which provides music programs to special needs kids.
“He is helping impact the lives of special needs kids here at the Rich Center and Fairhaven with the donation. He truly is our hero,” Linda Wellendorf of the Creative Bridge Coalition said.
The first year of the awards was a success but now that he has started it, he wants it to continue.
“Yeah, it’s got to go every year. Every year it’s got to be something that we have to try and top from last year,” Kermec said.
Next year, Kermec hopes to get Phil Keaggy and Glass Harp to reunite and play at the Youngstown Music Awards. It likely will be held again on Thanksgiving weekend, though nothing is set yet.