My name is Jaime Hinckson and I am an aspiring jazz pianist with a deeply rooted reggae soul. Born in Miami, Florida to Jamaican parents Glen and Janet Hinckson, my Caribbean culture inspired a powerful connection with the artistically rich heritage of the islands.
From a young age, I was exposed to a mosaic of influential, musical genres ranging from The Beatles British rock, all the way to The Fugees American hip hop. Sitting at home with my pops after church, he would pull out his dusty 45’s and play tunes from the Drifters, Stylistics, Chi-Lites, Harold Melvin, and Teddy Pendergrass, to name a few. On the more contemporary side, my older sister Deanna had me dancing to Michael Jackson, rapping to LL Cool J, singing to Boyz II Men, and sweating over Janet Jackson.
At the age of seven, I had the pleasure of meeting my angel in disguise, Joan McMorris. “Miss Mac,” as we affectionately called her, planted a seed of music in my life that would grow into an unfathomable talent seen only by her at the time. She taught me all of my rudimentary music theory and had me playing Chopin and Rachmaninoff until I was blue in the face. Sooner or later I grew tired of playing mundane classical piano and felt the urge to give up on music altogether. I will never forget the day we had the argument, short lived, she silenced my grievances with the sweet sound of Monty Alexander. It was my first time hearing jazz piano and it immediately became a challenge I was eager to tackle.
She introduced me to her childhood friend, Leslie Butler, who took over as my jazz teacher. Upon hearing him play for the first time, all I could think was “Uncle Leslie smooth like wata [water]!” I started out wanting to play just like him, intently watching every lick, trying to decipher every run. It was his unorthodox method of teaching that paved the way for my creative exploration, and soon enough I developed my own unique swag. He bridged the gap between rudimentary classical music and contemporary jazz to show me that they were one and the same; it was only a matter of perspective.
Throughout high school, I competed in both classical and contemporary piano competitions across Florida. At age 14, my music career took a leap after winning a national NAACP ACT-SO competition as a sophomore in high school. Performing as a solo pianist, I placed among two seniors each with full bands backing them. I was gradually making a name for myself when my growing success caught the attention of a few international promoters. I went on to play at the 2006 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Montego Bay, Jamaica alongside well-known artists like John Legend, Shaggy, Patti LaBelle, Al Green, and Air Supply.
Unfortunately, my piano lessons and brief high school music career were placed on hold as I began my college career. Like listening to a broken record, “Music is not guaranteed…why not be a doctor or lawyer,” was all I heard. Music was my ultimate goal but I knew I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. My academic achievement earned me a full scholarship to the University of Florida where I decided to pursue an engineering degree. Although college brought me fond memories, with each year that passed it became more apparent there was still a void that academics could not fill.
By 2013, I decided it was time to take flight. I fully immersed myself back into the fountain of music and decided it was time for a hiatus. My heart was renewed and the ambition was real; it was time to make a statement. In the small town of Gainesville, Florida, I was able to gather a group of talented musicians to help me complete a long-awaited reggae/jazz project. After months of rehearsals and tedious recording sessions, “Take Flight” finally launched. Releasing my first album was a milestone that has inspired me to soar to new heights and made me realize I could never cheat my music fate again.