Giveton Gelin is a 20 year old self-taught jazz musician blazing a trail as a trumpeter, composer and band leader in New York. Despite limited opportunities to pursue his musical passion in The Bahamas, Giveton was focused and determined. He was also fortunate to have received encouragement and support of mentors along the way. Giveton has already distinguished himself as a musician to admire, and one to watch for the future.
Since the age of 10, Giveton taught himself how to play the trumpet simply by emulating what he heard on his favorite records. Despite years of self-tutelage, it wasn't until Giveton was thirteen years old and saw Bahamian double bass player Adrian D'Aguilar (who lived in NY and LA for several decades) playing live in Nassau that he realized there is a place for jazz in The Bahamas, that his musical passion had a foundation, and that it could become reality. Adrian took Giveton under his wing and gave him the tools and encouragement he needed to really play jazz.
Formerly a student at C.H. Reeves Junior High School, and Government High, Giveton graduated from Windsor Preparatory School in Nassau. He then moved to Ohio, USA to study with Dr. Eddie Henderson at the Oberlin Conservatory. That very year he won top positions at both the Young Arts Foundation and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program. After one year at Oberlin, he moved to New York to attend the prestigious Juilliard School, the world's leading performing arts conservatory, where he is about to begin his third year.
Giveton has been mentored by some of the world's greatest jazz musicians, including Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Eddie Henderson, Barry Harris, Jason Moran, Ralph Peterson, Ambrose Akinmusire and the late Roy Hargrove. Giveton is certainly making a name for himself in music in New York, where after only two years, he has played with pioneers of the New York jazz scene including his mentors Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove, and also with Curtis Lundy, Harold Mabern, Bobby Watson, Winard Harper, Sullivan Fortner, Ben Wolfe, and Jon Batiste. Giveton now leads his very own Quintet which performs in New York.
Giveton’s artistic vision is to pay tribute to his ancestors and to bring forth a new narrative to Jazz music. He hopes to be a leading voice that truly speaks to the heart. He plays to uplift and unify others by incorporating core human qualities of love and compassion into sound. He also hopes to inspire other young persons to embrace and pursue their musical passion. The INSPIRE Group is very pleased that Giveton has agreed to, from time to time, bring his musical talent to public school classrooms as a positive example of how music can help shape, strengthen and propel a young person forward to succeed.
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in your field? We go through life searching for our life’s calling. I was fortunate to have found mine very early. The moment I felt deeply inspired by music was the moment I knew I wanted to make this a career. I remember listening to “The Three Trumpeters” in junior high school. It was the first time I heard highly skilled trumpet playing coupled with the greatest trumpet voices of the day. The track included Nicholas Payton, Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove. This album became the marker to the beginning of my passion for artistic music.
2. Why is your profession/field of study important? My understanding of the importance of music within society has grown throughout the years. I think, in essence, artists are reflectors. We reflect our experiences and what we as a people have to endure. Music is a medium. Through this medium we are able to connect with people from different walks of life. That stream of consciousness gives individuals a stronger understanding of themselves because we all share those human qualities. Through these commonalities we are able to create change and impact people on a deeper level.
3. Did you have a mentor or coach who helped or encouraged you to pursue your dreams? Yes. Mentorship is a huge part of why I kept on moving forward within this musical journey. Shortly after I started to venture into jazz music I met Adrian D’Aguilar at Jacaranda house. That was the encounter that led to me having the guidance I needed to understand how to approach learning this art form. It was through his mentorship that I was able to gain spots at highly regarded conservatories in the U.S. I am also fortunate to have had, later on, some of my heros as mentors. Eddie Henderson, Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove have played a huge part in my trumpet life. I am thankful and honored to have had such great mentors.
4. Did you encounter any obstacles along your path to this point? Obstacles are a part of growth. Every step of the way was once an obstacle. I’ve had hardships, but the word obstacle is a term I don’t really think of much. Overcoming any obstacle has always been my M.O. Through God, I always approached everything with the intent of achieving it. This mindset has allowed me to not really care much for that term. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
5. What was the most amazing experience you have had so far? There have been so many, but having the opportunity to play at Roy Hargrove’s Memorial was one of the most meaningful musical experiences I have ever had.
6. What is your favorite written work (book/quote/poem etc) and why?
'True Design' is an original musical piece. The song is about the artistic nature of the world and its workings. It’s one of the few songs that I have written where the composition process wrote itself.
7. What do you think is the most important issue facing the world today? We as a people should prioritize our commonalities instead of defining our differences: race, gender, or culture. This should be incorporated into our daily lives. We are citizens of the world and I believe solving the world’s problems starts by looking within. This is what I try to implement within my music. I try to incorporate core human qualities into sound.
8. Please complete this sentence. “If I could change the world, I would…..”
If I could change the world I would encourage people to strive for understanding that unites us as people despite our differences. I believe that the power to achieve this can be done through Music.
9. What words of advice would you offer to any student as they consider their future?
i) Put your everything into the present. The future will unfold based on how you approach the present.
ii) Have an open mind; seek knowledge and your passion will come to you. If you’ve already figured out what you want to do, then the next step is to find ways to excel within your craft.
iii) Music students - go and search for the very best of your instrument. This is the way of seeking knowledge. The best musicians have that in abundance. It is up to you to hear and find what connects with you.
Above photos by:
Adrian Tillman, Anna Yatskevich, and Alessandro Sarno
See below links for musical performances by Giveton Gelin:
Jazz at Lincoln Center https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlFdmfkJXAM&list=RDcKTz1iUkcW0&index=8
2017 National YoungArts Week
The INSPIRE Group thanks GIVETON GELIN for inspiring musical excellence and for exemplifying that all things are possible if you believe. We wish you continued success!