International Student Charbel Ghanime Self-produces Music Video
By Jeannine Mercer, mentor, Lebanon Residency Program, SUNY Empire State College
January 16, 2015
Charbel Ghanime, 22, an Empire State College international student in Lebanon, has self-produced a music video and song, “Forever December,” which he released on YouTube Dec. 1, 2014. Ghanime, who uses the artist name “Belime,” explained that he did this in order to make music for its own sake, and was tired of trying of create something commercial in order to attract the attention of others in the music industry.
“Only when I had realized that I needed to make my own path and create something genuine is when I was really able to get people to connect with my music,” Ghanime said.
Ghanime had success with his music as a teenager including a record deal with a local music label in Lebanon along with an MTV video. However, now as a young man and evolving artist, he’s been trying to recreate his image within the industry.
“The song ‘Forever December’ speaks about regret, my struggle as a musician to rise above everything that was drowning me,” explains Ghanime. Since Ghanime was born in December, he sees this new launch of his career in December as an appropriate time for rebirth and renewal.
“Forever December” managed to garner more than 1,000 views in its first few days, and more than 7,000 views within two weeks. By chance, an employee at one of Lebanon’s largest radio stations, NRJ Radio, heard the song and really liked it. The manager of the station called Ghanime and asked to feature the song in its playlist, and to also show the video on its music channel. Due to the success of the song on social media, other radio stations in Lebanon have expressed interest adding it to their playlists as well.
“I’m getting a great response to the song on social media,” says Ghanime, explaining how it has increased his fan base and people are tweeting about it. “The good thing about social media is that you get a chance to see how people really think. You get to read the comments, see how many people have shared or viewed the video, and get a sense of the impact that the song has had on them.”
Through another chance encounter, Ghanime met up with Brad Vee Johnson, a gospel singer originally from New York City. Johnson had happened to be in Lebanon for a concert at the time that Ghanime’s video had been released. He heard the song and liked it so much that he complimented Ghanime through a video message which was sent to Ghanime via a mutual friend who happened to be organizing the event. This led to the two meeting and having a small jamming session and agreeing to meet up in the studio in January when Johnson plans to return to Lebanon.
Ghanime, who took an online summer course called Digital Storytelling with Dr. Sheila Aird, had shared with her some of the audio from this jamming session with Johnson. “She absolutely fell in love with the sound that we came up with,” he says. It was a mix of Ghanime’s contemporary music and Johnson’s experience with gospel and soul. Aird was interested in the sound, and is considering using whatever the two will record as part of the soundtrack for a documentary film she is working on about female ex-gang members’ lives after prison.
“I didn’t intend for any of this to happen,” says Ghanime. “I just wanted to make music from the heart.”
In February, he will release another original single to follow “Forever December,” and is hoping that the video and song will get some exposure as well.
Ghanime is a current Empire State College student in his final term, and is studying advertising and marketing.
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