‘Two Bermudians making it happen’
Bermudian saxophonist George (Keith) Lee recorded his first solo album in Philadelphia during one of the coldest winters on record. When he and producer, LA Virgil, of music production company Hismultimedia, got to the recording studio Mr Lee had to use a hair dryer to warm up the saxophone.
“The saxophone was like ice,” he said. “It wasn't too warm in the recording studio. They have to keep it cool because of the equipment.”
Then a lever broke on his instrument and had to be quickly repaired with Krazy Glue.
Still, Mr Lee and Ms Virgil persevered and the result was gospel album, ‘My Hiding Place'. It should be released this week in local stores including The Music Box on Reid Street. The album includes 12 songs, mostly covers with two original songs by Mr Lee.
“I was surprised to learn that Mr Lee also sings,” said Ms Virgil. “I thought he just played the saxophone. It was a delightful surprise.”
In his working life, Mr Lee is a horticultural landscaper.
“I'm a Bermudian,” he said with a laugh, “that means I'm holding down more than one job.”
Ironically, he is well known in Bermuda for singing the cover song ‘He Grew A Tree'.
“Sometimes people call me ‘Mr Hegrewatree',” said Mr Lee with a smile. “That song has been very popular.”
He bought his first saxophone in the late 1970s. At first he was self taught, and played by ear. In 1985, he took things to the next level and began studying music at the Jackson's School of Performing Arts. He later took a summer course at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.
“It was challenging to learn theory after playing by ear for so long,” he said. “It opened up my musical understanding. I became a more informed player. I took an improvisation course that gave me the tools to improvise and play.”
Since then, he has been in high demand to play at functions such as wedding and parties in Bermuda. However, he loves playing in church the most.
“ ‘My Hiding Place' in the title of one of my original songs, refers to Jesus,” he said. “The other song written by me on the album is called ‘God's Not Through Blessing You'. I do think that the music is a spiritual gift. A lot of people have that gift, but don't use it spiritually. I do.”
It has not been formerly released yet, but had been played for friends and family to great effect.
“I love it when people are moved by the music,” he said. “I always wanted to put together a solo album. It was a dream of mine.”
Producer Ms Virgil said she'd been encouraging Mr Lee for some time to put together an album.
“We had to take various trains and buses to get to the recording studio,” she said. “It was really cold in Philadelphia at that. I just looked at it as two Bermudians making it happen. When people hear it they just get caught up in the music.”
For more information about the album, contact Mr Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org.