As a personal reflection on big George and as a musical tribute I've composed ' LAMENT FOR GEORGE'. The record label, Shanachie,have added it as a bonus track on the digital version of my new album,ECHOES OF HOME, due out in a few weeks. We've been working on an accompanying video compiled from personal,informal pictures and footage of his beloved Scotland. It's just been posted on YouTube and the link is; http://youtu.be/njEwj6C59gc I hope we did him justice.
How well I remember Big George turning up for one of the very first auditions for Celtic Thunder on a wet Wednesday in Glasgow. He brightened up the room. But he was so nervous he fumbled his words and failed the audition.
However, back in Dublin I kept thinking of his big presence, his open, cheery expression and, most of all, his likeability. We called him back for a second look. Again his nerves got the better of him but I loved his personality and his infectious good humour. He was in.
There was some serious hard work to be done in the next number of weeks and nobody rose to the challenge with more enthusiasm than George. A lot of this was new to him, there was a hell of a lot to learn and he was older than all the others. But he got stuck in.
A measure of how far he had come was his performance on the night of the filming of the first show. I was so proud of the job he did, particularly on a couple of my songs “The Old Man” and “A Bird Without Wings”. One of my fondest recollections of all of my time with Celtic Thunder was how the lads were totally taken by surprise by the standing ovation at the end. I’ll never forget the look on George’s face.
On tour George had a genuine maturity, a grounded sense of reality and a deep appreciation of finally getting his shot. Here was a man who had worked building buses, nine to five, for nearly twenty years. He loved the road and his humour brightened up many’s a long journey.
But he still would count the days to the end of a tour when he could go home to be with Carolyn and Sarah, the ladies in his life that he adored beyond words.
George Donaldson was a good man. He died tragically young but he has left a legacy that not many can claim. His voice touched the hearts of millions and his personality brought joy to all who knew him.
“He’ll still be heard In the tunes we shared….”
May the Lord have mercy on his soul