South African Interviews

Tamika Interviews Gino Lee


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Move over Bruno Mars, Port Elizabeth’s very own Gino Lee is about to take centre stage!

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Winner of M-net’s acclaimed “Young Stars” televised competition in 2010, BAMA award winner, Bay FM award winner, sought-after corporate and festival performer in the Eastern Cape, and still only a Matric student, this talented young rock star has the world at his feet. I say ‘rock star’ with a sort of giggle, as that is precisely not what Gino wants to be..

I performed in Port Elizabeth last night at Pool City, and I was a bit nervous as the crowd there is very rock-oriented and I’m not like that at all! My vibe when I perform my original music is very relaxed, very laid back. I was worried how they would feel about my music.

As could be expected, they received him well – as is the case in every other instance in which he finds himself in front of the mic. Having started at the young age of thirteen, Gino’s been performing his music across the province ever since. He performs cover songs of famous tunes, as well as some of his own stuff – a lot of which he co-writes with his talented brother.

Pop is my genre. I love it! I’m starting to introduce the element of dance into my routines, as the crowd really likes that.

Well, he might not want to be a rock star, but he certainly moves like one and has the crowds of followers to attest to it! With nearly 2, 000 subscribers on his personal Facebook page alone – not to mention his 1, 000 + fans on his public Facebook page – Gino’s a hit at the tender age of seventeen. Especially with the ladies 😉

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Meeting him at “Friendly Stranger” in Port Elizabeth, I was honoured to meet his dynamic mother along with him.

My parents are my managers. I am so blessed to have them. They truly have my best interests at heart.

I personally can’t wait to get to work on the interview!

Tamika: Where are you from originally?

Gino: Port Elizabeth.

Tamika: Where do you attend school?

Gino: Theodor Herzl.

Tamika: What kind of training did you do for singing?

Gino: None. When I was in grade seven (thirteen) I was in a band called River Road. I played keyboard. We didn’t have a singer, and so one day I stepped up to the plate. Soon after that I went solo and in 2010, I won M-net’s Young Stars. I started taking my singing more seriously and I pushed myself forward into performing at all kinds of things. There were festivals, corporates, schools, competitions, you name it! I needed experience and I needed to get my name out there.

Tamika: What are some of the biggest performances you’ve ever done?

Gino: The Splash Festivals  in 2010 and 2011. They were held at Hobie Beach in PE. They were big ones for me. Then an event for Volkswagen always ranks among the top ones. I remember all the big cheeses of VW were there, and I was terrified! But it went so well…

Tamika: Ever got stage fright?

Gino: Haha! No. For me, the most stressful part of the performance is always the waiting to go on. But once I’m on stage I’m fine.

Tamika: So what’s in the pipeline for you right now?

Gino: Well there’s some pretty exciting stuff! I’m off to America in a few months. 

Tamika: America?!

Gino: Yip! I was very lucky to be scouted last year at a gig I was doing at Montecasino, Johannesburg. A talent scout called Kim Myers selected me to perform at a talent showcase going on this year in Orlando. It’s called The Applause Rising Talent Showcase

The Applause Rising Talent Showcase, or ARTS, is a family owned and operated international organization.  With hand selected mother agencies, dance centers, performing arts organizations, theater companies, and more… coming together to offer a unique week long experience, like no other.   ARTS is recognized by top industry leaders as the simply the best and safest place in the world to pursue the entertainment industry, without spending a life savings, and education dollars.

Aspiring actors, singers, dancers and fashion/commercial models with have their time on stage performing in various capacities.  ARTS offers a state of the art experience on a Hollywood set and Broadway style stage!  Live performance in front of hundreds of agents worldwide and a live audience!  On-camera auditions for Television, Cold-Read, Comedy, and Improvisation… like no other! We unite agencies looking for the brightest and best new talent to the very best quality talent of all ages worldwide. 

So everything right now is about preparing for that. There’s a group of us that were selected here in the Eastern Cape. Together we’ve started a project to raise funds for the trip. We’ve called it “Persuing Arts” and we intend to put on a showcase of our own in April this year in Port Elizabeth as a fundraising event. 

Tamika: And school? What do you intend to do after school?

Gino: Well that’s a tricky one. A lot depends on what happens in America. But I do know that no matter what, I want to be educated and I’d like to study medicine. 

Tamika: Wow! Brains and beauty! Have you won any awards?

Gino: Haha! Umm… yes I have, I’ve won three BAMA Awards (Bay Area Music Awards) and two Bay FM Awards. 

Tamika: What instruments do you play?

Gino: Keyboard / Piano. 

Tamika: What is the most recent job you’ve done?

Gino: I performed at Pool City with a band called “Shut Up It’s Sunday”.

Tamika: Do you act as well?

Gino: Look I’m open to everything. In fact, at the moment I’m the lead in my school play! It’s called Aida and it starts on March 4th. It runs until March 10th. I also love dancing. Right now I’m working with an amazing choreographer, Bennie Gerber, who has his own dance studio called Vertical Expression. I get all my cool moves and back-up dancers from him 😉 

Tamika: Do you also model?

Gino: Not professionally. 

Tamika: Which singers do you look up to?

Gino: Pop music artists!

Tamika: Where do you party?

Gino: Gosh, I don’t hey! I’m not really a party person. There’s too much to do! I would far rather be at home creating, producing, brainstorming and planning – let’s put it this way, I’d rather have my music playing in the club. 

Tamika: What’s in the boot of your car right now?

Gino: Sound equipment!

Tamika: Do you have siblings?

Gino: Yes, two brothers.

Tamika: What does your family do?

Gino: My dad’s a doctor and my mom is a retired teacher.

Tamika: What is your health routine like?

Gino: In the past I didn’t focus as much on my body as I’m starting to now. I work out now – mainly to build strength and stamina so I can be my best on stage.

Tamika: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

Gino: Winning a Grammy.

Tamika: Name a place you love.

Gino: Anywhere with my parents.

Tamika: Do you do any charity work?

Gino: Yes, absolutely! I do a lot for the HMA Charity (Heaven’s Missing Angels), for the Eastern Cape Children’s Home, for the Mfundu Children’s Home and for the POPS Foundation (People Opposing Poverty in Society).

Tamika: What do you tell yourself when you walk away from a performance?

Gino: No matter what, I’m kind to myself. I always make sure that even if I mess up, I turn it into a good thing. So I would say to myself; “Great performance!”

You can catch Gino here:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/gino.lee?fref=ts

Twitter – @MrGinoLee

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