Contact Helen

Helen Duitch was born in Chicago. When she was 6 years old, her family moved to Ames Iowa where her father joined his brother in the automotive business. She was married to Louis (Blackie) Galinsky and their marriage had 67 happy years until Blackie's death in 2000.

Helen showed early talent at the piano, playing by ear when she was in her early teens. She was never taught piano professionally but could hear a song and immediately thereafter, repeat it at the piano. She did have an innate talent for music, as her father, paternal grandfather and other family members, paternal and maternal, expressed their artistic abilities in many forms. Her artistic talent was passed down to her only child, Jimmy, and to her grandchildren Scott and Victoria. She also has a remarkable acumen in business matters, passing this keen insight to son Jimmy and grandson Blair.

Edith Belto, Helen Gale, Sally Barber
Her first professional singing and playing jobs were at dance studios performing backup for dance instructors and their students. About this time, Helen took the professional name of Helen "Gale" which, understandably, is easier said than "Galinsky."

By the early 1940's, Helen was playing with her first band. On this site, you will hear some of her very early recordings which, because of WW 11 rationing, were transcribed on paper discs! Much later, her son transferred these to magnetic tape for preservation. But these early recordings, which Helen now describes as "corny" at best, reflect signs of creative versatility and improvisation. In "China Boy," recorded in 1942, she harmonizes with guitar played Eddie Critchlow, together playing the scales with zippy riffs.


Eventually, Helen developed a progressive jazz style of playing that would continue throughout her career. She played a multitude of jobs per week and her pay was typical of the times. This is evidenced by her original notations recording her job receipts.

During her career lasting seven decades, she played with well known musicians in the central Iowa area. She also played solos and with groups in the Miami area and in Puerto Rico. In Des Moines, her well known combo included Ross Cornielson on bass and Bobby Parker on drums. Some of their finest recordings were preserved and can be heard on this site.


Beginning in 1990 and continuing each year for eleven years, the Helen Gale Trio performed at the annual "Jazz in July" series at the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines. Hundreds of her former fans and hundreds of new fans enjoyed hearing creative medleys of show tunes and old favorites. She often presented a segment during the show which asked the audience to guess the name of the tune. On this site on the "Videos" page, you may view a short clip from this series, taped in July 1997.

In 2002, Helen was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame an award given buy the Greater Des Moines Community Jazz Center. Presented October 20, 2002, the award was presented..."...in recognition of significant contributions to the jazz community in the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. You have truly inspired the past, present, and future generations...."

Reading about Helen and listening to her music does not tell her whole story. You would have to meet her. You would immediately note her outgoing and vibrant personality and her sense of humor. She can joke anytime, anywhere.........and almost with anyone! THIS is Helen Gale!