George Hutton may be a European medal winning powerlifter, and an acclaimed classical singer, but the Culmore Road man is far from the stereotype of either.
Just days after the release of his debut album ‘The First Noel’ the Derry singer says he’s overwhelmed with the reaction to his music.
Coming in at 12 in the Irish Itunes chart is no mean feat, considering George recorded the album as a personal project.
“I never expected it to make the charts,” says George.
“When I saw it in there beside the Ratpack and Frank Sinatra, that was amazing. For a long time I’d wanted to record a Christmas single or album and I decided now was the time. Christmas is always a special time for people. I’ve recorded classics like ‘O Holy Night’ on this album and I think the nostalgia that songs like that bring is something that everyone really feels. I wanted to record and album that would make people feel good. Something that would be uplifting during what can be a difficult time of year for some people. ”
George is no stranger to performing. From January to April of this year, George travelled America for a sell-out tour with the Five Irish Tenors in what he describes as an “unforgettable” experience.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences,” he says.
“Over three months we travelled 41 states and performed 51 concerts. I’ll never forget how it felt to stand up and perform ‘The Town I loved so Well.’ I was performing in North Carolina when I heard the terrible news of the death of Ryan McBride and we dedicated the song to him. They lit the stage red and white. That was really tough to do but it was really special.
“I have so many amazing memories of that time. Every time we sang Danny Boy you could just see how much it meant to people. It’s hard to explain but you could feel the emotion in the room and you could see the impact of immigration.”
Since returning from America, George has now signed a deal to take part in ‘Songs of Ireland’ a production which will see him tour extensively internationally in 2019.
While his introduction to professional music came on the back of an audition and subsequently successful stint with Ireland’s national choir, Anuna, George had previously focused on his power lifting career, winning the European gold medal in the sport in 2014. He continues to work as a personal trainer while at home.
“Between the classical music and the weightlifting, my friend once called me a walking contradiction,” he says,
“For me one of the big things has always been breaking down stereotypes. I remember doing some football coaching in Lisnagelvin Primary School and one of the teachers asked me to sing. I remember the boys in the class couldn’t believe it when they heard me singing classical songs. I like to think that maybe that taught them that you don’t have to give up one thing to do another; that you can pretty much be everything you want to be.
“There’s so much pressure on young people and so much bullying goes on so I think it’s important to let young people know that they can be themselves and succeed. For a long time I had a fear of being bullied. I have to say it was my singing teacher Eoin O’Callaghan really encouraged me and it’s thanks to him that I am where I am today.”
George credits his parents’ musical influence too.
“There was always music in the house when we were growing up. I grew up listening to people like Maria Callas and we always had folk music playing too. That’s something that’s always stayed with me and I’d like my next album, which I’m planning to record in 2018, to have a focus on folk music.”
However for now, George is happy to be at home for Christmas.
“I’m still overwhelmed with the success of the album, and it hasn’t even been released a week. The reviews I’m getting from people online is really humbling, and I feel very lucky to be able to do what I’m doing.”
To download George’s album, The First Noel, visit itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-first-noel/1312518262