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Cécile McLorin Salvant

Known for her emotive, highly resonant voice and swinging virtuosity, singer Cécile McLorin Salvant first earned public acclaim after winning the 2010 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition. Showcasing her love of classic acoustic jazz as well as her French heritage, Salvant's Grammy-winning albums, 2015's For One to Love, 2017's Dreams and Daggers, and 2018's The Window, display her keen affinity for lesser-known standards and tunes drawn from the blues, gospel, and European song traditions. She has continued to expand her approach, moving between bold covers and her own artful, intimate originals, as on 2022's Ghost Song and 2023's Mélusine. Born in Miami, Florida to a French mother and Haitian father, Salvant was interested in music from a young age. She began piano lessons at age five, and by eight was singing with the Miami Choral Society. She studied classical voice privately before enrolling at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory in Aix-en-Provence, France, where she studied law as well as classical voice. It was during this time, studying and performing with reed player Jean-François Bonnel, that she became increasingly interested in jazz performance. She released her European debut album Cécile in 2009. A year later, she took home the top honor at the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, she performed with a variety of artists and appeared on pianist Jacky Terrasson's 2012 album Gouache. In 2013, Salvant released her U.S. debut album, WomanChild, on Mack Avenue Records. Showcasing a mix of originals and standards, it also featured contributions from Jazz at Lincoln Center regulars pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist James Chirillo, and drummer Herlin Riley. Highly acclaimed, the album garnered Salvant a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Two years later, she returned with her second album for Mack Avenue, For One to Love. Once again, it found Salvant backed by pianist Diehl, along with bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers. Also well-received, it reached number two on Billboard's U.S. Jazz Albums chart. The album also earned the singer her first Grammy Award when she took home the prize for Best Vocal Album of 2016. The following year Salvant delivered her fourth effort, the double-disc Dreams and Daggers. Recorded live at the Village Vanguard and New York's DiMenna Center, it featured accompaniment by her regular trio with Diehl, Sikivie, and Leathers, as well as pianist Sullivan Fortner and the Catalyst Quartet. Well-received, the album peaked at number two on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart, and earned Salvant her second Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. In 2018, the singer again collaborated with Fortner for the eclectic duo session The Window, covering standards along with songs by Stevie Wonder, Dori Caymmi, and Norma Winstone. Again hitting the Top Ten of the jazz charts, The Window earned Salvant her third Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. She further pushed her sound with 2022's Ghost Song, reinterpreting songs by Kate Bush and Sting alongside her own poetic and nuanced original compositions. It became her fifth album to reach the Top Ten of the jazz albums charts. In 2023, she delivered another conceptually experimental production, Mélusine. Inspired by the European folk myth of the title, the album featured originals alongside interpretations of songs culled from various languages including French, Haitian Creole, and Occitan. It earned a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
© Matt Collar /TiVo


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