US record label signs local musician Gino Lee

2018-11-07 06:03
Gino Lee in front of the building where he was signed by ONErpm in New York. Photos: SUPPLIED

Gino Lee in front of the building where he was signed by ONErpm in New York. Photos: SUPPLIED

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FOR a local musician from Port Elizabeth to get noticed and signed by a US record label is no easy feat, as young Gino Lee would testify to.

Gino Lee from Walmer, Port Elizabeth, who writes, produces and performs his own music, recently become part of the ONErpm label and has just released a brand new hit.

Lee featured in the PE Express in 2014 when he was offered a scholarship at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) after appearing at the International ARTS Talent Showcase.

After completing his scholarship, he returned to South Africa and released the hit song Back to Me which charted on local radio stations nationwide. During that time he lived in Cape Town, was signed by ICE Model Agency and did some modeling and acting. He also became a clothing label ambassador.

Music, however, remains his first love and he stayed focused on the dream of getting signed by a record label by continuing to write music.

Earlier this year, Lee and mom Bernie set off to New York again to meet with various executives and promoters. The experience this time, however, was a bit of a let down as many of the meetings they had set up before they left SA, never materialised.

“It was very disappointing because we had made these appointments months in advance but when we got there, the meetings were cancelled one after the other and we were feeling very down,” said Bernie.

In the meantime Lee appeared at various open mic sessions to gain some exposure. Lee said, “It’s not easy to get into these gigs, but luckily I still had contacts from my NYFA alumni who assisted me with that.”

It’s at one of the open mic sessions that he met singer, Lexi Riese, with whom he collaborated on a song.

“Open mic sessions can take hours. You literally have to wait your turn, sometimes until the early morning hours and it’s one of these nights I had heard Lexi sing and thought to myself, I need to work with her.” The two met up and wrote and produced a song which is due for release soon.

Lee also had a show at the Bitter End - a venue he performed at when he was still at NYFA. “It was really great to perform there, as some of the people still remembered me from years before. I prepared for the show before going to New York and had worked out choreography for the production with Junior Ferreira of the group, PE’s Finest. It was a really amazing dance routine which my dancers in New York had to learn and were very impressed by.”

After accepting defeat when the meetings with executives never took place, Gino and Bernie were ready to pack up and return to South Africa.

Then a light at the end of the tunnel appeared and they managed to meet with Jason Jordan, the Managing Director of ONErpm, who has worked with superstars such as Drake and Ariana Grande.

“The whole experience of meeting him at the ONErpm offices was so surreal. For someone so accomplished he was really down to earth and humble. He listened to several of my songs, and his favourite song was Only Get Better, and he said that he loved my music. He said that he would love to work with me,” Gino Lee said.

“I am very excited and grateful for this opportunity.”

The song, Only Get Better, was released yesterday and is available on Spotify, iTunes, SoundCloud and YouTube. For more info go to Gino Lee’s Facebook page.

Gino Lee is currently in the Bay while writing exams for the Computer Science course he is studying part time, but will return to the USA early next year.

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