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Pastor Niles makes a Break Through
Born into a musical family, it was pre-ordained that Minister St Clair Niles, once a plumber, would eventually become a singer and a recording artiste. The worship minister at Rhema Fellowship Ministries, in Barataria, Niles credits his father as his biggest influence in music. “My father was a musician who played in church,” said Niles, “playing almost every instrument, organ, piano, everything.
“As a child, I was involved with National Biennial Music Festival as my school, San Juan Government Secondary School, was very successful in the festival. My teacher, Sylvia Robin, was very good at what she did, nurturing young talent. In the 1970 music festival, Assad Mohammed, myself and Dominic Kalipersad, from TV6, performed in the Boys’ Trio category and we became champions. I can’t forget that. The name of the song was Chumbara. I was also a winner in the Duet category, singing with Peter Soon, and made it to the champions final as a soloist; but didn’t win.”
“After school, I discontinued singing and it was only when I became more deeply involved in the church, around 1981, I returned to singing. It all began at a church carnival camp, when a talent show was held. I took part and was ‘discovered’. I’ve been singing ever since. I became the soloist in the church and its worship leader, and I am now the worship minister at Rhema.”
An ordained pastor of the gospel for 21 years, Niles said: “God has given me the blessing to write my own songs, and all the songs on my Break Through CD are originals, written by me. I can only describe my songwriting as inspirational; songs just come into my head. I can’t just sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and write a song. For instance, the first song on the CD, Unto You, came to me one day while standing in a line in the bank. Sometimes songs come to me while having breakfast, lying in bed, on a boat ride, just so out of the blue. Behave Yourself was written while I walking through Port-of-Spain, after seeing a schoolboy killed in Laventille.”
Niles did his first solo concert in 1983—St Clair Niles in Concert—at San Juan Pentecostal Church and hasn’t been able to produce another since. He explained: “I am stretched in so many different directions that it is difficult to properly stage a concert.”
In 1997, Niles won the National Local Gospel Song Festival, staged at Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, and one of his prizes was a one-year recording contract. “The CD was supposed to have been started since back then,” said Niles, “but then I had no songs. For quite some time I wasn’t of sufficiently good voice to do a CD. It was mainly through the cajoling of the producers—Cyril and Cee Jay Perez—and singer Tenille Lewis, that I finally buckled down and completed the project. I know I can do much better work than what is heard on the CD.
“I have received tremendous assistance from several people in the background in making this CD possible. Among these people are Mark and Diane Alexis and Fausta Houllier, and sponsors Lee Quin’s Contractors and Christian Printers.”
Niles doesn’t think that Break Through has made a breakthrough as yet. He said: “These songs are good songs, all with positive messages, for every one. I would really like all music lovers to get the opportunity to hear my music.”
Break Through is at all local gospel radio stations, and has also been sent to North America, Australia and a few Caribbean islands. Niles said a second CD is in the making. He said: “I have enough written material to do at least two more CDs right now. But, producing a CD is expensive business so I’ve got to consolidate and build.”