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Cécile McLorin Salvant

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Cécile McLorin Salvant // "For One To Love" - Best Jazz Vocal Album

Cécile McLorin Salvant, a wildly talented singer, songwriter, visual artist and illustrator, became a breakout star with 2013’s ‘WomanChild.’ Her follow-up, ‘For One To Love,’ is a courageous statement of contrast : love and longing, delight and desire - to be released September 4 on Mack Avenue Records.

Cécile composed five original songs for ‘For One To Love.’ Each of these tunes explore the album’s underlying themes and display Cécile’s strong personality, sharp intellect, coy humor, unfettered romanticism, and penetrating honesty. The thematic elements continue to grow with a smoldering take on Burt Bacharach’s bygone “Wives and Lovers” and “Growlin’ Dan” by Blanche Calloway, the first woman to lead an all-male orchestra. “What’s The Matter Now,” originally popularized by Bessie Smith, is a juxtaposition of feel versus subject matter : a plea for fair treatment enclosed in a playful blues. “Le Mal De Vivre,” written by French singer Barbara in 1966, is a stark ballad performed by Cécile in French.

‘For One To Love’ is a riotous showcase for this riveting voice : quivering highs and soul-shaking lows, all delivered with grace and style. Salvant has reunited with decorated young pianist Aaron Diehl, joined by his trio of Paul Sikivie on bass and Lawrence Leathers on drums. Together this ensemble swings and swirls, nimbly hanging on Cécile’s every cry, snarl and coo. A gifted illustrator, Cécile accents the albums poignant music with original artwork.


Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started classical piano studies at 5, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at 8. Early on, she developed an interest in classical voice, began studying with private instructors, and later with Edward Walker, vocal teacher at the University of Miami. In 2007, Cécile moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study political science, classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel, that she started learning about improvisation, instrumental and vocal repertoire ranging from the 1910s on, and sang with her first band.

In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first album, "Cécile", with Jean-François Bonnel’s Paris Quintet. A year later, she won the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington D.C. She currently lives and studies music in New York.

Cécile McLorin Salvant at Les Victoires du Jazz in Paris - June 2014

Cécile performs unique interpretations of unknown and scarcely recorded jazz and blues compositions. She focuses on a theatrical, and sometimes ironic, portrayal of the jazz standard and is just beginning to compose her own instrumental pieces and songs. She enjoys growing popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, spiegeltents, and festivals accompanied by renowned musicians like Jean- Francois Bonnel, Rodney Whitaker, Dan Nimmer, Aaron Diehl. Cécile has also performed with Wynton Marsalis and his swinging Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Ben Ratliff, of the New York Times : "…She was funny and dire and idiosyncratic, and never cutesy-flirty or mannered-hip…As she sang her less-than-obvious set choices … she stamped out the lines with authority and power and a bit of outrageousness, as if they were home truths, not history assignments. She zeroed in on notes, sang at crawling tempos more than once, made her voice into a creaking door, a fog..., then a laser. She stayed on pitch and grew unnervingly quiet in the end verses of the Bessie Smith, turning the song, about refusing a rough man’s advances, into an extravagant story. She put the house band’s players at ease, keeping close watch over solos...She seemed fresh, but also as if she had decided long ago that she was an artist."

Cecile McLorin Salvant - I Didn’t Know What Time it Was from Mack Avenue on Vimeo.

The magazine Paris Hot Club has called a “true and remarkable jazz singer…a young jazz prodigy”. Cécile has performed at numerous festivals such as Jazz à Vienne, Ascona, Whitley Bay, Montauban, Foix and will be performing this year with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York and Chicago and with her own band at the Kennedy Center, the Spoleto Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival and other venues.