Helen Gillet is a jazz-based cellist, singer, composer, and improviser. She grew up in Belgium, Singapore, Chicago, and Wisconsin. Performing her own eclectic mix of French, contemporary jazz, North Indian, blues, and classical styles, Gillet has forged a path for the cello in the New Orleans music scene since her arrival in 2002, winning Best Female Performer (2014 Gambit Big Easy Awards), Best Mixed Bag (2012 Gambit Big Easy Awards), and Best Contemporary Jazz (2011 Gambit Big Easy Awards). Beloit College is proud to claim her as a graduate of the class of 2000.
She has performed extensively in music venues across the United States and Western Europe. Beginning cello lessons at the age of 9, Gillet has taken her classical education all the way to a master’s degree (Loyola University). Her training as an improviser began with North Indian Hindustani vocal ragas in 1998, which launched her into the worlds of free improvisation, jazz, funk, rock, and French chansons. Gillet has performed at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival International (Lafayette, La.), Voodoo Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival and Hindsgavl Festival in Denmark, Mirano Oltre Festival in Italy, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.