Miguel Granada has lived in a lot of places - from the west coast of Africa to Portugal - and he’s currently settled in Portadown.
Miguel was born in Angola, the seventh-largest country in Africa, to an Angolan mother and Portuguese father.
That he and his family have ended up in Portadown is a remarkable story in itself.
“I was born in Luanda, the capital of Angola,” explained Miguel. “My mother was Angolan and my father a Portuguese doctor, who came to Angola and was employed as the President’s doctor in the 1970s.”
After moving out of Angola as a child, Miguel grew up in Portugal, completing the equivalent of his A-levels and beginning his adult life there.
“I got married, settled down, got a job - all the ‘normal’ things,” Miguel says. “In 2000, I started working in a factory. It was the biggest paper company in Europe - a great job - but I think there was a calling to return home. Africa has a pull on your heart and, in 2005, I told my wife I thought maybe we should move to Angola; we were sitting in the garden and we said, ‘Why not?’ I have family there and, after moving to Luanda, I started to manage a sports facility with my brother.
“Last year, Luanda was named the most expensive city in the world, as well as being the city with the highest rate of children dying - which tells you a lot about the contrast between wealth and poverty there.”
After his joint venture with his brother on the unique sports venue, Miguel decided to leave Luanda - “Luanda is crazy” - and moved over 300 miles south to Benguela.
“I got tired of it - everything was very complicated, especially for the kids,” Miguel explains. “It could take you five hours to travel through Luanda’s city centre; you might decide to go to the supermarket one day and that would be all you’d get done because of the traffic! We sold everything we owned in 2009 and moved to Benguela, where I opened a restaurant with my brother.”
While he was living in Benguela, Miguel started to make a living out of one of his passions: music.
“I’ve played guitar for twenty years,” Miguel shares. “I decided to start teaching it at home and in some schools - as well as teaching English and computers in after-school clubs there - but we got tired of Africa.”
It was in amongst his eclectic mix of career choices - he worked for the Angolan president before quitting his job to construct and maintain scaffolding - that he happened upon Portadown.
“I said to my daughter one day: “Go get the map” - though it was Google Maps on the laptop - and I said, ‘Okay, where do you want to go?’”
After scanning the map - momentarily considering Switzerland, Luxembourg and Cork - the Granada family decided to up sticks and move to Portadown, even though their decision was met by some confusion by those around them.
“It was August 2012 and we said, “Why don’t we go?”,” explains Miguel. “We started selling everything. It was quite funny because there were police in and out of my house every day and the neighbours began asking questions. They thought we were having problems - but it just happened to be that a lot of our friends were police officers!
“We sold everything in one month. I got to Belfast with my luggage - some clothes and one guitar - and my wife and I got into a taxi and said, ‘Please take us to Portadown.’”
Ignoring the confused looks of the taxi driver, Miguel and his wife were sure of their decision, and they had been sure to do their homework on the town.
“I knew everything about the area from Google Maps!” Miguel exclaims.
“So, as we were driving along, I recognised places and felt like I knew the town. We asked the taxi driver to bring us to a hotel and he said, ‘Well, the Seagoe is the only hotel in Portadown.’ That was a surprise! I was coming from Luanda - a city with six million people - and here I was in a town with one hotel!”
After the initial period of adjustment, Miguel and his family quickly settled into life in Portadown - and it soon became clear to Miguel that now was the time to wholeheartedly pursue a career in music.
“My wife is a hairdresser, and opened up a business on Thomas Street last November,” Miguel shares. “I started to teach, working my way through the Steps 2 Work programme as a self-employed guitar tutor.” Miguel’s two daughters began attending Oasis Youth Project, which is run as part of Craigavon Intercultural Programme (CIP). It was through his children’s involvement with the programme that Miguel struck up a friendship with Stephen Smith, the CEO of CIP.
“I went to Oasis, asking about schools for my two daughters,” explains Miguel. “The girls started to go to Oasis’ United Stars programme, where young people work around music. I met Stephen there and started to do workshops at CIP - then he let me use a room for teaching.”
Now studying for his diploma in Jazz Guitar Performance with the London College of Music, Miguel has a number of students attending his guitar lessons at the CIP centre, and has a lot of admiration for the work that Stephen’s team does.
“What they’re doing here is amazing,” Miguel says. “I now have fifteen students and I am teaching guitar in Tullygally Primary School. My plan is to get to rural areas.”
With his children now studying in Lismore and Tullygally, and his wife running Liliana Cabeleireiros salon in the town centre, the Granada family are certainly making their mark - and determined to invest in the town, 4,749 miles from where they started off.
For details on Miguel’s guitar tuition, visit www.miguelgranadaguitar.yolasite.com