Gideon St.Helen - The Man with the Guitar


Gideon St.Helen is another friend that I've met online. Last St.Lucia carnival he got the latest music from the Sweet 7 playlist, St.Lucia 2008 Soca/Riddims/Music, and later added me as a friend on IMEEM. While I was only supplying the music, this part time guitarist originally from Banse La-Grace, Laborie, St.Lucia, Gideon was romanticizing the music, and giving it a whole other appeal. 

For a trip down memory lane, listen to Gideon's Remix of "Wine on Your Boom Boom" by Ashanti.  The original, "Wine on Your Boom Boom" by Ashanti.

Gideon has done it again with "Heavy T" from Trinidad Carnival 2009, by 4 time winner Faye Ann Lyons. Listen to Gideon St.Helen's Heavy T Remix.

Tell me a lil' about yourself
While I have chosen a career path in toxicology and public health, attending the University of Georgia, in Athens, GA, music remains my lifelong passion. This passion has kept me motivated and focused on becoming a better guitarist even in the absence of any formal music training. It has further allowed me to embrace an eclectic taste ranging from gospel, blues, classical, flamenco, and Latin, to the music that I grew up in, calypso, soca, and reggae. My influences are Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Santana, Gypsy Kings, the great Brazilian Bossa Nova composers like Jobim and Bonfa, Bob Marley, Sparrow, and Kitchener as well as our own (St.Lucian), Ronald "Boo" Hinkson. 

How did you learn to play the guitar?
The earliest memories of me and a guitar are those with me building my own from a 2 by 4, a Donald Duck orange juice can, some fishing line I cut from my father’s tool box, and a couple nails. Imagine a 5 or 6 year old in church making noise with that and the frowns on some faces. Well, I guess my parents got fed up and bought me my first classical guitar when I was 9. I had no idea it was a classical guitar back then. A well-known folk guitarist from La-Grace, Mr. Robert, taught me a few chords, C, G, F, D, and I have never put the guitar down since then. Big thank you to him. Although I have not been fortunate enough to take any music or guitar lessons from that time, I have been constantly motivated and challenged to become better by the music from the world’s great guitarists. So, I have basically learned by listening to music, and I mean music, all forms. Of course, I am not at all near where I can be and there is still so much room for improvement.

How do you decide which songs to remix or cover?
I do a lot of covers. I have to admit though that I do these simply for practice. They are not meant to be professional recordings but simply a way of evaluating my playing in order to make improvements in technique and style. These covers are usually gospel as I practice for performances, but every now and then I find these compelling Caribbean “riddims” that I just have to lay a couple of guitar licks on. There’s nothing comparable to the vibe and energy from a real Caribbean tune, whether it is gospel, reggae, soca, or calypso. The riddims that I choose are usually those with a melodic line. It is easier for me to cover a tune in which the original artist “sings” instead of “raps.” 

Why did you decide to remix Heavy T by Faye Ann Lyons?
I did a cover of this tune for two reasons: (1) it’s on a sick riddim, the Bus Stop Riddim, and (2) I knew once that tune from Faye-Ann burst on the scene it would sell off and it did. (Congratulations to Faye-Ann for her sweep of Trini soca titles this year). I love the thumping bass line in this riddim. And of course, she “sang” although it was hard keeping up with her. 

Final Words?
Honor and praise to God for blessing me and all the other established and upcoming musicians in St. Lucia with such talents. Musicians keep that in mind and stay humble. It can all be gone in a flash. Spread the love through your music.












2 comments

  1. a-a how i miss dat??? big up banse-la grace lab!!!!! hinkson, look out!

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  2. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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