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Hotseat - Michael Maidwell

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Singer of Orange Grove

-Stay awake, St. Maarten and listen for the tunes of the OG band-

Michael is the lead singer of the Band "Orange Grove" which he founded together with Jacob Streefkerk about 13 years ago. While they were studying in the Netherlands, both applied for Marketing Management study; they started practicing and performing in local bars and pubs and the rest is history.

Michael was born and raised in St. Maarten. Pelican and Simpson Bay were his playgrounds. Playing basketball and taking part in all kinds of water sports, spear fishing being his most preferred sport. He had a childhood one can only dream of, and then, at the tender age of 16, he left to start his studies in the Netherlands.

Like any young boy growing up in St. Maarten, Michael has great stories on how pristine Simpson Bay, Cole Bay and Pelican were. Diving off the cliffs, seeking treasures in the caves surrounding the Island, snorkelling the bays, catching fish to place on the grill the evening of the catch and last, but not least, enjoying the great lazy tunes of reggae, complemented the entire experience. Michael comes from an extremely sporty family, however, his passion is for music; Reggae infused with rock describes the sound of Orange Grove at its best.

Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and other legendary Reggae bands were the initial inspiration for Orange Grove's band members. Later, the surfer reggae tunes from Sublime took the band into a slightly different direction, only more refining the sound of OG band.

The latest news on OG Band is that none other than "Bob Sinclar" in collaboration with Orange Grove will be releasing the single "Ready for it". This will take the band to the next level and who knows where this might lead.....

OG Band will be performing next in the Netherlands on September 14th.

Where were you born & tell me a little about where you grew up?

I was born in St. Rose Hospital on Front Street; Simpson Bay and Pelican Key were my play grounds. My little friends and I were the enemies of all the security guards in the area. Pelican Key was paradise at the time; underground caves where we played, caught bats and many other games.

Spear fishing was a big thing for me; my brother's room was my little heaven when he was off studying. I would go spear fishing with my friends for hours on an end. I just recently got my scuba licence, and on my last trip to Aruba I went spear-fishing for lionfish. This is one of the few ways of spear fishing, which actually helps the environment.

Where did you go to school?

I went to Butterfly Kindergarten, Sister Regina, Milton Peters College High School, Hoge School van Utrecht and Rock Academy in Tilburg. Progressing into my last year in Marketing, we were accepted into Rock Academy; we decided to switch. I have no regrets, I wasn't made to become a marketing analyst; I never had passion for this sector. It is different when it comes to music, that's where my passion lies.

You are the lead singer of Orange Grove; please tell me a little about this.

Since high school times, Jacob and I have been good friends. We recorded a few demos in 1999; we had people listen to them and got good response. Jacob knew some musicians on the island. They joined us in Holland and we had a band of all St. Maarteners. We chose Orange Grove as name and it soon took off. We were all inspired by old school Reggae, Bob Marley, steel pulse etc. Sublime was our idol band in the US, a new form of Rock Reggae, music for surfers. We worked our music around this, and basically now make music for surfers.

You live in the Netherlands, is this due to the success of the band?

We live in the Netherlands due to the potential it offers the band. Our music is spreading more in the US and Brazil. We are getting contracted more and more in Miami. We are thinking that it might eventually be the reason for us to return to the Island.

Orange Grove tours through Europe, US and the Caribbean. Please tell me something about this?

We tour a lot, we travel many days of the year, we get along very well and that makes the touring great. All of us are easy going and that just makes it so much better when travelling. Once we did 9 shows in 9 days, very intense, sometimes sleeping in the car and on the floor, and then we had to perform' The fact that we got through all this, told us a lot about the band.

We get pleasure from the 100,000 people listening and following our movements; playing at a place like Prickly Pear is just amazing.

Pls. tell me about an experience while you were on tour.

A week after the Heineken Regatta - I had just shared the stage with Wycliffe Jean - I was called on stage to sing with him. A week later, we were asked to perform at Moon Splash. A group of sailors working on "Bolera" - a very luxurious sailing yacht - had come to our gig at the Red Piano. They heard we were going to Anguilla and offered us a ride over on Bolera; we stayed at Cap Juluca. Black Uhuru, who was supposed to be the main act, didn't show up, so Orange Grove became the main act and everybody thanked us for saving the event. This was, I'd like to say, the best week of my life.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Things seem to be clearer. We are aiming to be invited to the bigger festivals in the world. We understand better now what is needed, and where our focus needs to be to facilitate the success of the band. I'd like to be living in St. Maarten then, and travel the world from here.

Is there any advice you would like to give the young musicians in St. Maarten/the Caribbean?

It's hard work that pays off eventually. If you have the talent, you need to continue practicing and put hours and hours of work into your passion. You will need to make sacrifices to finally see it happen. You need to get better, be versatile to stay in the race. If it's what you love to do, it will pay off in the end.

If you could invite 3 famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

I would love to have dinner with Mom, Dad and Saida (my girlfriend). I would cook myself; my dad's favourite fish, "blare eye", which I would have caught that day. I would prepare a carrot mash and serve it with a fresh salad. My mom would make a trifle with fruits and whipped cream and rum.

I would love to have a pleasant meal with my dad, and introduce my lovely girlfriend to him; conversation would flow naturally.