Montecasino

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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Johannesburg, My Life in Africa

South African In: Johannesburg


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Christmas / New Year’s is that delicious little period in life when all the worries of the world seem to fade away into some  fantastically naughty little indulgence. It can actually be any indulgence in the world – allow me to show you some of my little indulgences over the past 2 weeks 🙂

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I flew up to Johannesburg with my family & stayed at Southern Sun, Montecasino. I absolutely LOVED my hotel! We had a gorgeous view from our room overlooking the “Sun Square” as well as a superbly-designed lake, fully equipped with a family of ducks and my favourite – two black swans 🙂 The hotel is a brand-new addition to the hotel family at Montecasino from my understanding… opened in May 2010. I’ve always stayed at their legendary Palazzo hotel when I’ve travelled to Montecasino. I still absolutely love it! But compared to this new addition, it’s a tad old-fashioned. Apparently it’s due for refurbishment this year, which will hopefully give it the freshness & contemporary ambiance of its sister hotel the Southern Sun!

Opened in May 2010 the Southern Sun Montecasino located at The Pivot is an exciting addition to the Montecasino Precinct. The hotel has 194 bedrooms and offers all the modern facilities for both business and leisure travellers including a high spec gymnasium.

The hotel reflects a fusion of period and modern Venetian furnishings with a fresh electric style. Punchinello’s restaurant offers Mediterranean cuisine in an exciting open plan kitchen which allows guests to share in the activities of the bustling kitchen.

A contemporary bar and lounge leads out to a large wooden deck overlooking the pool which is the ideal setting for sundowners.

– http://www.montecasino.co.za

Southern Sun MonteCasino Hotel, Johannesburg

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Walking out of our hotel, there was easy access to the main Montecasino entertainment complex. We spotted these fabulous Venetian-inspired statues along the way! I loved them – there was a statue for every season. My favourite was summer…

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There was also just generally some beautiful Venetian-inspired scenery which was so inspiring.

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There is an exciting hub just a 5 min walk from our hotel called “Sun Square” which is just brilliant! Complete with restaurants – including the winner of Masterchef South Africa’s very own restaurant called Aarya – a musical fountain, a big screen TV, a clock tower and a giant Teatro (Italian for “Theatre”) hosting top notch productions all year round. Everything in the complex is styled to look like Venice, which I loved. This is where we celebrated New Year’s Eve.

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The fireworks at the stroke of midnight were marvelous. I absolutely loved them. I think fireworks at midnight on New Year’s is an absolute MUST. Fireworks & champagne, that’s a true celebration for a new year. All these pics are by my brother, Dane Doubell. Prior to the countdown on New Year’s Eve we enjoyed the award-winning, much-acclaimed musical production “Dirty Dancing”. It blew me away.

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I was really excited to wear my new dress from “Forever New”, white always looks great against a bit of a tan 😉

On New Year’s Eve we started a special new tradition which I hope will last for a very long time… We lit 2 beeswax candles which were part of a delicate little ornament I received as a gift from a friend who went to the German Christmas Market last year.

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I lit the candle on the left for the old year and blew out all of the past. Then I lit the candle on the right for the future, and breathed in the light of the new year.

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I recently created a quote for myself which is where the premise of this tradition began 🙂

Breathe out the past and breathe in the future

I also saw one great quote at “Skoobs” – my new favourite book store – which held lovely significance for me.

To top it all off, I threw a lucky penny into this fountain on New Year’s Eve and made a wish.

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What I totally enjoyed about Montecasino was walking around the complex popping into this shop and that, grabbing an iced coffee and watching the live entertainment. There’s always some entertainment in the centre, from saxophone players to magicians to singers to circus folk. I loved the bookstore in the complex and also the 3D cinema where we watched some great films.

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Something we loved to do was take a golf cart during the days from our hotel to the “Palazzo Hotel” and swim in their beautiful pool! We alternated between swimming at our hotel and the Palazzo hotel, which were both so gorgeous…

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A few more indulgences were definitely at the breakfast buffet.

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There were so many people at this hotel and in the complex generally.. I knew we’d picked the perfect place to spend New Year as a family 🙂

On the last day we visited the Montecasino Bird Gardens ……… and I loved it. My impressions of the park were that it is very clean and spacious. Also that they have such a diverse collection of birds. The birds are well looked after and I was thoroughly delighting in all the various exotic birds they have there…

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

They hold wonderful bird shows every day at different times of the day. I really enjoyed it much more than I first thought I would – I felt like a kid again!

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

There was one creature I particularly liked, and that was the chameleon!

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

I also liked the snake, seeing as 2013 is the year of the snake!

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

Photography: Dane Doubell

I calmed my nerves at a nearby waterfall – gorgeous!

Photography: Dane Doubell

On one evening we went and got a Thai Massage. We did a foot massage and then went into a full body “deep tissue” thai massage. Absolutely incredible! They actually manipulate your entire body as part of the massage. It’s quite something – had me stretching in positions I never knew I could. The parlour where the Thai spa was lay inside the Montecasino complex, making it very convenient for us. I just remember walking in and smelling the sweet scent of vanilla incense…. it was stunning.

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I loved everything about this place and it certainly made me add “get a thai massage at least once a month” to my resolutions list.Here is some more info on Thai massages (I found it quite interesting!)

Traditional Thai massage is based on the belief that all life force spirals around special pathways, or prana pathways, in the body. There are 72 000 invisible energy lines, which make up the energy body. Any blockage along these lines can cause disease (dis-ease) on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Thai massage focuses on 10 important lines, called sen sip. By releasing any blocked energy along the sen lines, prana can flow freely, thereby restoring balance, health and harmony in the body.

Traditional Thai massage is a combination of acupressure, reflexology and yogic exercises, or gentle stretching, which manipulates the energy lines and so diminishes tension, stimulates metabolism and creates a feeling of wellbeing and vitality. Unlike some other therapies, you will feel refreshed and energized after a Thai massage, rather than sedated and lethargic.

After a glorious holiday in Johannesburg, we flew back to my home town Port Elizabeth where I am currently writing to you from.

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