Ronald “Boo” Hinkson

Ronald “Boo’’ Hinkson is today one of the most heralded jazz guitarists to have emerged from the Caribbean in recent times. He is a musician, a producer, an arranger, a composer, a lyricist, and an excellent performer known for the smooth quality of his playing style and the sheer genius of his versatility and talent.

Born in Castries, music must have been in young Hinkson’s blood as his father played the clarinet and his mother played the guitar. Indeed, it was his mother who gave him his first lessons on the instrument he would come to master. He also acknowledges being influenced by the soulful strains of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, brought home by his father – a military serviceman with the British West Indian Regiment.

Boo attended the Anglican Infant and Primary Schools and then St. Mary’s College. On weekends and evenings however, he received musical instructions from his tutor and mentor Iona Hinkson – The Great. By fourteen he had completed his first tour as a guitarist and by the age of sixteen had made his solo performance debut.

In the 1960’s, Boo along with his brothers and some friends, formed the Tru Tones Orchestra. Quickly gaining popularity, the band soon released their first recording, and would go on to produce five albums in all and several hit singles, including the immensely popular “ Burning Eyes, Hungry Belly”, “ Song of Love”, and the masterful remake of Hot Chocolate’s, “ Sexy Thing”.

During the 1970’s, the Tru Tones leader was instrumental in facilitating the early recordings of Saint Lucian folk music along with The Hewannora Voices and The Helenites and also played a valuable role in formally bringing the art form into the school education programme.

In 1979, the Tru Tones had the distinction of playing at the National Football League’s (NFL) Superbowl XIII in Miami, becoming one of the first Caribbean acts to appear on such a huge international stage.

There is an old saying, all good things must come to an end; such was the case with the Tru Tones Orchestra.  After serenading audiences for some two decades the group dissolved but Boo continued performing as a solo artist, creating for himself his own lusty jazz-infused, Caribbean rooted style.

His first solo CD was released in 1995. Entitled “Alive and Well,” it featured jazz melodies uniquely spiked with a Caribbean / R&B mix.

Saint Lucia’s most highly acclaimed guitarist has performed in Germany, Canada, the UK, the USA, and throughout the length and breadth of the Caribbean alongside music industry giants like George Benson, Stanley Jordon, Kenny Burrel, Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh and Ronnie Laws among others. American singer Tracy Hamlin’s first nomination for a Grammy Award was as a result of a song written by Boo “Magic in Love”.

His career has spanned more than forty years and shows no sign of slowing down.  Boo’s music has been showcased on the daytime soap opera “One Life to Live” as well as on BET Jazz, MTV and Bravo TV.  Recently Boo got the honour of becoming a judge for the annual Grammy Awards.

Boo has won scores of awards both locally and abroad, among them the Saint Lucia Medal of Merit (SLMM), the Saint Lucia Piton Medal (SLPM) and recently, Order of the British Empire (OBE).  He has written top ten songs for various reggae artists, calypsonians and rhythm and blues performers locally, regionally and on the international scene.

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