Article and Interview by: Hala Judy Subaiti
When I first met George, it was an early September afternoon in Caribou Café in Sassine. I was almost struck by how tall he was, with the words “gentle giant” coming to mind almost immediately as we shook hands. At only nineteen, he is a tall and broad-shouldered young man with an almost shy demeanor. However, that quickly faded as the interview began, revealing a soft-voiced but confident youth, ready to share his life, wisdom, accomplishments and inspirations.
A bright and ambitious kid, George is currently in his second year of college, majoring in interior design. His true passion, however, is for the stage. In fact, his most ardent dream is to make it to the New York School of Arts and establish a career in the design or music industry. Speaking of music, George’s enthusiasm for song is a river that cannot be tamed. He is already training to be a singer under the tutelage of George Martinos. I was given the pleasure of listening to a snippet of Christina Aguilera’s “Hurt” he recorded in the studio, and I was honestly touched by the raw emotion and vocal control he portrayed. According to Wardini, he had improved immensely as he described himself as “sounding like a chicken” at first. This made me laugh, but if that were true, then there is no doubt in my mind George would make a splash in the music scene, and any other place he decides to go, if how far he’s come in his short life is anything to go by:
George was born in 1993—a time that seems almost recent to someone in their mid-twenties. As a child, he loved to draw buildings and, by the age of nine, was already drawing them in 3D. During our talk, he mentioned that, if he went to people’s houses, he liked to go to their bathrooms and examine the different designs and layouts. Because of his artistic talent and keen observation skills, he was told repeatedly by his family that he was going to be an architect—and he grew up believing that this was exactly the path he would take.
However, this would prove to be far from true. George’s life was hardly easy; his parents were divorced, and he had been living with his mother since the age of six. His increasingly difficult life with her pushed him to make a decision: He left his home at the age of sixteen and rented a dorm in Dekweneh, while working in a stationary bookshop and studying Architecture at the Dekwaneh School of Arts and Crafts. It was during this two-year time period that the smiling young man who was sitting across the table from me hit the lowest point of his life: “When I was living alone, it was really hard. I didn’t have money for water sometimes and so I had to boil tap water in order to drink it…I was only 16 and had no contact with my family and was surrounded by a bad crowd at school.”
In spite of this, what George said next would give any listener no doubt that there is nothing if not a sharp head on his teenage shoulders that goes beyond his years, “There was nothing good about my life, but I told myself that everyone who made something of themselves went through a difficult period. Through the hardships, I discovered who I was and what I wanted to do. I had believed I wanted to be an architect because that’s what everyone told me since I was a child. But I knew then that what I really wanted was to become a performer.” He paused, and then said with surprising eloquence, “Pain is the fuel you burn to make art.”
With that in mind, he enrolled in interior design, a major that held the art he craved, and began to train in music. His life improved immensely when a family reached out and took him in after he could not stay in the run-down dorm anymore. A few months later, at the start of 2012, he was able to afford a far better dorm on campus where he was studying. Moreover, a positive turn in his life occurred when he reconciled with his father, whom he had a turbulent relationship with, in Christmas 2011. George’s headstrong dedication and his firm hold on hope was as essential as water, but so was the presence of those who lent a helping hand so that he was now well on his way to pursuing his lifelong potential.
In fact, one of those people was far more than just a helping hand. Her name is Cheryl Nolan, and she’s a tattoo artist and photographer living in Newcastle, in the UK. “She is like my mother; she means more to me than my family.” George said with conviction. They had met on a social network, and they just “clicked”. She became his mentor and one of his very best friends. “We are extremely close, and always in contact with each other. She made me who I am by giving me vital support. She encouraged me to write, to sing, to take pictures. She knows everything that I’ve been through and has been an amazing support—she’s the most important person in my life.”
This alone taught me once again that no matter the distance, you can make a difference in someone’s life by simply being there for them. George had the talent and willingness to work very hard, and Cheryl was there to give him the kind of support many would only dream to have—something George will never forget.
Other Interesting Tidbits:
George’s Motto: “Everyone has potential, and you have to find out your purpose in life. If you can’t figure it out, follow your passion and it will lead you to your purpose. If you have what it takes to do it, don’t let anything hold you back, no matter how hard things may seem.” This 19-year-old definitely lives by his words, as he is not just an aspiring singer and interior design student, but a hard-working event planner, photographer (check out his photography page here), and even a writer. His book, a work in progress entitled The Lost and Found, is about “passion, pain and how to channel what happened to you during your life into something positive.” Is there anything he cannot do?
Favorite music genres: Soul, Classic Soul, Hip-Hop and R&B. “I’m into dance and I also like Adele, Christina Aguilera, Eminem and Lil Jon.”
Donald Trump: He’s a well-known public figure and very well-versed in the show-business industry as well as a successful business man.
Adele: Her voice and commitment to music, and she made it just because of her talent.
When are you happiest?
“It’s when I’m being myself, when I feel like I’m fulfilling my full potential.” He said with a smile.
How do you live your life now?
“I don’t want to have to come to a point where I have to compromise. I want to be able to do what I want, and I work hard, but it’s where all my resources go to. I want to excel in music so that when I work on my voice, I have something that I can present.”
I have to say, this writer was only too happy to get to know George for the couple of hours we had that conversation. I wish him the best in his future endeavors—and I have no doubt in my mind he’ll be blazing roads for years to come.