Pursuing A Dream
George Kamel '12
By Trey Taulbee
A self-proclaimed “modern-day, renaissance man,” George Kamel has dabbled in a multitude of artistic pursuits. From his early days as skateboarder on the streets of Boston, MA to his teenage years performing covers on YouTube, Kamel has always dreamed of being heard and making a difference.
Because of relationships made at the University of Mobile, this dream is becoming a reality.
Kamel moved from Dedham, MA, a suburb of Boston, to Mobile in January 2010 to attend the University of Mobile. Kamel traded his mother’s baklava for barbeque and sweet tea, welcoming the southern culture’s charm and hospitality.
“I immediately fell in love with the South,” says Kamel. “The rich tradition, the barbeque, the sweet tea, the warm climate, the slower pace, the friendly people – coming from Boston, it was a whole new world, and a wonderful change of pace and environment.”
Kamel recalls his first impressions of UMobile as “family-like.”
“It had a very warm, tight-knit community,” says Kamel. “There’s a family atmosphere that you just can’t find at many larger colleges.”
Prior to enrolling at UMobile, Kamel attended a large, public institution in Boston, but found that UMobile’s Christian foundation inspired him to excel academically and artistically in a different way.
“I felt like I was a part of something bigger than myself, within a supportive community that doesn’t just encourage you, but challenges you as well.”
Kamel taught himself how to play the guitar and began writing songs by the age of 15. Prior to attending UMobile, Kamel had released two albums: one as part of the folk-rock group Meadowlarks and a solo album under the moniker Lapsley.
But better songwriting days were yet to come.
“I really found my artistic voice at UMobile,” says Kamel.
As a student, Kamel began playing in local venues and coffee shops, garnering the attention of UMobile students and other local musicians. In the fall of 2011, Kamel was a featured student artist at “The Listening Room,” a singer/songwriter night that showcases UMobile student talent in Bedsole Commons. Kamel considers it “the perfect environment” for people to hear original music on-campus. Yet his favorite event to play was COVERS, a traditional UMobile talent showcase that gives students the opportunity to perform their favorite song to a standing-room-only crowd of peers in Ram Hall.
“The level of production and talent is of the highest quality, and that makes for an incredible event for the students,” says Kamel.
Kamel was involved in multiple leadership opportunities through the Campus Life office. He served as a member of both the Campus Activities Board and Publicity team, producing video content and designing events for the student body. He also worked part-time in the university Marketing and Public Relations Office, writing press releases and producing RamTV, an online newscast distributed through multiple university channels. Kamel successfully balanced these leadership roles with his studies, earning the President’s Award (4.0 GPA) and the area award in Communication upon graduation.
But beyond his educational achievements, Kamel believes the greater investment lies within the relationships he developed at UMobile.
“UMobile really invests in their students, so you not only leave with a degree, but with incredible experiences, mentors, and friends,” he says.
These relationships inspired Kamel to step out and pursue his dream of recording an album of original songs.
Making an Album
In February 2012, his last semester, Kamel began recording his first full length album, “The Great Coward.” Because the time and financial commitment would be so great, Kamel turned to Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform for writers, artists, musicians, and filmmakers.
He needed to raise $2,500 in 21 days.
He raised $3,631.
Due to the support of his friends and fellow students, and some generous social media activity, Kamel’s dream became a reality.
“Most of my support, both financially and personally, was coming directly from these students that had really become family to me,” says Kamel. “I was speechless.”
In June 2012, Kamel released “The Great Coward.” Since the release, his music has been purchased from listeners all across the world. The album garnered special attention when the nationally published magazine “American Songwriter” chose his song, “Mockingbird,” as first place in their November/December songwriting contest.
Kamel won a guitar and a full-page feature in the magazine.
“I still can’t believe it actually happened,” says Kamel. “It really encouraged me to pursue my dreams and hammer home the idea that anything is possible if you just put yourself out there and work hard.”
When Kamel is not working, he likes to spend his free time writing songs and playing shows in the Mobile area. But in the near future, Kamel plans on moving to Nashville, TN for creative pursuits. Wherever he goes, Kamel believes the relationships he developed with faculty, staff, and students at UMobile have prepared him to succeed.
“They really challenged and stretched me, encouraging me to use my talents to create and develop content that inspired and encouraged everyone around me,” says Kamel. “I can proudly say that UMobile has instilled a confidence in me that I can go out and change the world, knowing that every little dent counts.”