Playing guitar was much different than the cello, which he played by holding the bow with the toes of his left foot while playing the strings with the toes of his right foot. To play the guitar, he would lay the instrument on the floor and use his left toes to hold the pick and strum up and down while his right toes played the chords and notes. “I had to find a way to move my toes to make those chords,” he says. “There was a lot of trial and error.”
Despite having no arms, George did not feel different from other children until he hit middle school and was ridiculed by classmates. “I was bullied because I was different,” he says. “I didn’t really have an outlet to cope with it, so I just let it be.”
When he was 15, George began to embrace the fact that he was unique. “I told myself I wasn’t going anywhere by sitting here and sulking in my sorrow,” he recalls. A major part of his epiphany was music. He sang and played with small bands and served as a worship leader at his church before starting his solo career. He performed his first gigs in coffee shops around his hometown and then in 2012, he stepped on the stage at the Ashland Strawberry Faire.
The Goo Goo Dolls weren’t the only music-industry veterans to contact George after seeing his YouTube video. Nashville songwriters Jordan Lawhead and Jason Reeves were so impressed they invited him to Nashville to record a video and two songs.
A stage 4 melanoma survivor, Lawhead is the founder of YouInspire.org, a video platform where people with medical challenges can share their stories. “I was looking for inspirational stories and people who could uplift others,” Lawhead says. “When you spend 10 minutes with George, it changes your life. When I watched him play guitar with his feet, it made me see my life in a whole new way.”