Singer Gibbor Green Takes the Lead in Empowering Youth
by Chael Needle
Gibbor Green recently dropped the Twitter-inspired “#FOLLOWME,” an ode to hash-tagging what’s important: celebrating love, peace, and good vibes.
The track, bursting with sunshine-y vocals, free-spirited and life-affirming lyrics, and crisp beats, is the definition of a jam—summer, winter, spring, no matter the season. One of the messages it floats is empowerment and the power of youth to change the world.
“A lot of people liked it and have commented on it,” Gibbor says, taking a short break from his home school studies to speak with A&U. Working with young dancers from the Steele 1 Junkyard Dance Studio and getting to groove on top of a double-propeller plane, a limo, and a floating dock in the middle of Biscayne Bay, he assures me that the video was “fun to make.” “#FOLLOWME,” which he premiered on NBC Miami with JJ and Nayshawn, his dance crew, followed up his first single, “Crush.”
Gibbor may not have as many followers on Twitter as Ashton Kutcher, but check back in a year and all that may change. The soon-to-be fourteen year-old has the kind of musical talent that blows up, goes viral, and, well, gets Tweeted about. People are going to follow @GibborGreen not only for updates about the Miami native’s soulful music and performances but because of his commitment to giving back and making a difference in the world. He knows how to build a community in more ways than one.
Using YouTube, an iPhone/iPod app, and other social media, Gibbor has been spreading the word about his music as well as a campaign he recently started through a nonprofit called Charity: Water to help people access safe and clean water in developing nations. “I watched a lot of documentaries about kids in Africa and how they don’t have clean water, so I was like, ‘That’s terrible,’ you know?” he says about how he learned about the problem. “If I was in that situation I wouldn’t like to live there and that’s why I came up with the solution to help them out.” Access to safe and clean water translates into more time for education, income generation, and better health, among other benefits.
He tied in his upcoming birthday, February 25, as a way to raise funds through the #TeamGreen Water Campaign. Instead of gifts, he is asking for donations. “So, if we make a certain amount of money, then on my birthday they will build a well in Africa.”
Gibbor is planning on starting his own foundation, with a focus on empowering youth and helping out those in need. He’s already started this work by supporting the Overtown Youth Center and the Dream Young Foundation, which helps young people with disabilities, including those living with HIV. He has lent his talent to many benefits, including the Breast Cancer Center for Women, Welcome Miami, Circle Ten Media, Pamela’s Red Carpet, April Donaldson & Welcome Miami, The Sistrunk Festival Fundraiser, The Bayfest Festival 2010, Gulf Stream Park, and Juneteenth Festival, among others.
“Just so that everyone can get pretty much equal is what inspires me to help out,” he says. “So they can get the same privileges that I have gotten.”
One of his musical inspirations is Aretha Franklin, citing the latter’s singing style and marveling at the way she pronounces each word. Gibbor recently met Aretha at an event, an experience that was “pretty cool,” he says matter-of-factly.
Others that make the top of his list include Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and James Brown. He values the importance of introducing these legends to a new generation.
The tag line on his Web site is “bringing soul back to the future,” so of course he’s tapped into the current music scene. Grammy-winner Mya contributed an intro to his Mixtape, a collection of covers that he is dropping soon. He worked with Tef the Producer on “Crush” and go-to music video production company Vulpine Films (Sean Kingston, Soulja Boy, Trina) on “#FOLLOWME.” Gibbor says that he would love to work Ne-Yo, Usher, and Jaden Smith, if he ever gets the chance.
Mixtape includes covers by artists from New Edition and Michael Jackson to Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. He has the emotional maturity to do justice to Sam Cooke and the swag to pull off Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World.” Listening to old songs and new to assemble the mix, he chose the tracks so that there would be something for everyone.
His appreciation of music undoubtedly has been honed from singing from an early age (two, to be exact), performing with Community Book and Dance, a dance school lead by Linda Agyapong, and growing up in a musical family, with three brothers and three sisters. “We all sing, and write music and make beats,” he says. Aside from singing, Gibbor also plays the guitar and drums, and dances. On his down time, he likes to read (comic books, for one). “For fun I like to play basketball, work out,” he says, “and make some beats.”
Performing comes naturally to him, he says. Asked what he likes most about it, he is quick to respond: “The excitement.” When we talked, he was prepping for an upcoming performance at the Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance, part of a yearlong slate of not-for-profit events supporting arts, education, and the fight against AIDS, and now other causes, for over two decades. Arrested Development and Chaka Khan will be among the many performers.
On Mixtape, Gibbor covers Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” and he’s aware that she started a foundation to help children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Asked if people his age know enough about AIDS around the world, Gibbor responds, “I feel like they should know more about it so that they can be more careful about that situation.” Gibbor doesn’t think people talk enough about HIV/AIDS in school and would like to see more education.
And that sounds like something millions would re-Tweet.
Visit gibborgreen.com for the latest news and videos from Gibbor Green. To help out with the #TeamGreen Water Campaign,
log on to www.mycharitywater.org/p/campaign?campaign_id=22558.
Chael Needle interviewed singer Marshall Titus and photographer John Gress about their “I Will” video in the January issue.