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Artist Feature

Cécile McLorin Salvant

When Cécile McLorin Salvant arrived at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to compete in the finals of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she was not only the youngest finalist, but also a mystery woman with the most unusual background of any of the participants. When she walked away with first place in the jazz world’s most prestigious contest, the buzz began almost immediately. If anything, it has intensified in the months leading up to the launch of her Mack Avenue Records debut, WomanChild.

Born in Miami to a French mother and Haitian father, McLorin Salvant’s first language was French. She immersed herself in the classical music tradition, starting on piano at age five and joining the Miami Choral Society at age eight. When it came time for college, McLorin Salvant bypassed all the US conservatories, heading instead to Aix-en-Provence in France, where she continued to develop as a singer, but with an emphasis on classical and baroque vocal music as well as jazz.

On WomanChild, her repertoire ranges from the 19th century ballad “John Henry,” refreshed in a spirited up-to-date arrangement, to McLorin Salvant’s own 21st century waltz “Le Front Caché Sur Tes Genoux” which draws on a poem by Haitian writer Ida Salomon Faubert for its lyric. She is joined by a world class band that shares her concern for creating music of today by drawing on vibrant traditions of the past: pianist Aaron Diehl, bassist Rodney Whitaker, guitarist James Chirillo and master drummer Herlin Riley.

The result is a project that combines a strong musical foundation with an equally formidable interpretative ability and embodies McLorin Salvant ‘s unique spirit: that of a seeker who is determined to push ahead, even while she shows an extraordinary command of the tradition that has preceded her.

To learn more on Cécile, click here