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Giveton Gelin Wins LetterOne “Rising Stars” Jazz Award

As part of his prize, the 21-year-old trumpeter will embark on a 10-city tour

Giveton Gelin
Giveton Gelin

Giveton Gelin, a 21-year-old Bahamian trumpeter currently attending the Juilliard School in New York, has won the 2020 LetterOne “Rising Stars” Jazz Award, the third time the honor has been given. He received the award at a ceremony in London on January 22.

As the winner, Gelin will feature in a 10-city tour, performing in prestigious festivals across the United States and Canada—including slots at the Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York City, the D.C. Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

In addition to the tour, the “Rising Stars” Jazz Award includes agent and marketing support, a total monetary value of more than $85,000.

“Gelin’s tone, phrasing and general way of playing remind us of many greats before him,” said the jury, which included jazz record producer Brian Bacchus, guitarist George Benson, LetterOne founder and philanthropist Mikhail Fridman, and journalist Michelle Mercer. “This, combined with his determination to make it from the fringes of jazz into the very heart of jazz in New York, convinced us that he will have a bright future ahead.”

Gelin is a self-taught trumpeter. Because his elementary school in Nassau needed more players in its marching band, his father gave him a trumpet at the age of 10, and Gelin began playing along to what he heard on his favorite records. He soon came under the mentorship of Bahamian jazz bassist Adrian d’Aguilar; from there, Gelin took advantage of such youth jazz programs as Manhattan School of Music Summer Camp, the U.S. National YoungArts Foundation, and the Kennedy Center’s Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program. He has also worked with Wynton Marsalis, Ralph Peterson, and Jason Moran, and since arriving in New York has recorded with Jon Batiste, Eric Wyatt, and Ben Wolfe. He is a member of Juilliard’s class of 2021.


LetterOne, an international investment firm based in Luxembourg, established its “Rising Stars” Jazz Award in 2017 as an award for young European artists. (French guitarist Tom Ibarra was its inaugural winner.) It expanded across the Atlantic in 2018, when vibraphonist Sasha Berliner became the first winner of the award’s North American edition.

This year, Danish pianist and composer Kathrine Windfield stands alongside Gelin as the winner of the European edition of the contest.