Proud of Them: Youths honored for academics, music

Bodden Towners Giselle Ebanks and Bruce Gordon were among the 12 Proud of Them finalists honored at a reception at the George Town Yacht Club this month.

Giselle Ebanks with Education Minister Tara Rivers and Youth Minister Osbourne Bodden.
Giselle Ebanks with Education Minister Tara Rivers and Youth Minister Osbourne Bodden.

Candidates were nominated by friends, acquaintances and community members for achievements in academics, sports, career, culture, business and community service.

Giselle Ebanks

Giselle Ebanks, 14, is already an example to her peers, and is making great strides in her academic career.

Giselle was named the top Year 10 student at St. Ignatius School. She made school history when she earned a grade point average of 4.32, the highest in all of Year 10. Previously, the highest GPA of a student at St. Ignatius over the last 20 years was 4.26.

During her school’s end-of-year ceremony, Giselle, who is also a member of the school’s concert band, was presented with a Sean Darby Award for most outstanding student. She took home four subject awards for the highest academic achievement in business studies, English language, French and physics.

Giselle also received an award for perfect attendance.

Giselle was able to achieve all of the above despite facing tragedy. In 2013, her mother died at the end of summer holidays. Despite her grief, Giselle worked hard to be an example to her younger brother, Kiefer.

Giselle demonstrates the qualities of determination and fortitude, and continuously strives for excellence, according to a press release.

Bruce Gordon with Education Minister Tara Rivers and Youth Minister Osbourne Bodden.
Bruce Gordon with Education Minister Tara Rivers and Youth Minister Osbourne Bodden.

Bruce Gordon

It’s not every day that a person can say their work has gone viral, but it’s a claim 20-year-old Bruce Gordon can make. The artist, who is also known by his stage name “Yung Fusion,” has a hit song, “Movements,” that to date, has millions of views on YouTube and 16 million plays on SoundCloud.

Bruce’s road to success took a lot of hard work, passion and initiative.

While perusing SoundCloud, a social sound platform that allows users to create songs and share them, he found an audio track from the Polish artist Pham. Upon hearing the beat, Bruce realized it was something he could create lyrics to. He reached out to the producer and together they created the viral hit “Movements,” in which he is credited as songwriter and singer/rapper.

The song got him international recognition with many music blogs and magazines highlighting the hit. It also exposed him to the business and legal side of the music industry. He had to navigate the world of international copyright and intellectual property rights, a path made particularly challenging with the lack of a manager or agent.

Bruce continued to collaborate with other international producers, as well as local artists.

He has found a mentor in Grammy nominated Caymanian producer Jason “JG” Gilbert.

He has also been sharing his knowledge of the industry with up-and-coming Caymanian artists, with many coming to record their songs in his home studio, which he built by saving his lunch money to buy the equipment.

Currently Bruce is working on creating an EP which he expects to release soon.

Bruce has been balancing the challenges of building a career in the music industry with pursing a degree in computer science at the University College of the Cayman Islands.

In high school, Bruce achieved 10 level two CXC passes, and graduated with honors and as head boy.

While he initially was able to maintain that standard at university, he experienced a dip when dealing with the first stages of his music career.

With encouragement from his family and friends, he has been able to improve his grades and find a balance between success at school and his music career.