Cynthia Sayer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Cynthia Sayer
sketch at Jazz in Marciac festival, France.
Background information
Also known as Nan
Born May 20, 1962
Waltham, Massachusetts
Origin Wayland, Massachusetts Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Genres Jazz, hot swing, classical
Occupation(s) Instrumentalist, singer, performer, recording artist
Instruments Banjo, Vocals, Piano, Ukulele, 4-String Guitar
Years active 1979–present

Cynthia Nan Sayer is a jazz banjoist, vocalist, concert and recording artist, and entertainer. She is also a 2006 inductee into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame as recognition as a Contemporary Performer.


In 1982, she recorded with Marvin Hamlisch for the soundtrack for Sophie's Choice. In 1985 worked as a musical consultant and also played ukulele on the soundtrack of Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo banjo for his film "Bullets Over Broadway," piano for "Anything Else," and is on ukulele again for his 2014 film release, "Magic In The Moonlight." She has also played on a number of other feature film & TV show soundtracks, including "The Cosby Mysteries," as well as on several TV commercials.

Cynthia Sayer is a founding member of Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band which plays every Monday evening at Manhattan's Carlyle Hotel. She appears in documentary film Wild Man Blues (directed by Barbara Kopple) and documents a 1996 European tour by Allen and his band. Sayer appears on two released recordings of the group, CDs: The Bunk Project (1993) and the soundtrack of Wild Man Blues (1997).

Sayer has performed at the White House, played with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Kurt Masur, performed in several Lincoln Center venues, Carnegie Hall, played with The Philharmonia Virtuosi conducted by Richard Kapp, and much more. She has appeared with leading artists in several genres, though regards herself as primarily a jazz musician. In 2006 Cynthia was honored for her performance skills with her induction into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame which is part of the American Banjo Museum. She has been a guest on numerous TV and radio show programs, including twice on the popular National Public Radio show, "Piano Jazz" (hosted the first time by Marian McPartland), "NDR Talk Show" in Germany, BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour" in England, and many more. Sayer was filmed for the 2011 PBS documentary, "Give Me The Banjo", was featured in "Downbeat Magazine" in 2013, and appeared on the national public TV and radio show "Woodsongs Old-TIme Radio Hour" in 2014.

Cynthia Sayer has an extensive career as a bandleader and featured guest artist. She tours worldwide, performing concerts and festivals, often with her bands, "Cynthia Sayer & Joyride", "Cynthia Sayer & Sparks Fly" and "Cynthia Sayer's Women Of The World Jazz Band (WOW)." She has released nine feature CDs so far on various labels, several of which have won award recognition, and has played on numerous other recordings as well. Her most recent feature recording is "Joyride" (2013) with Charlie Giordano on accordion and other top artists. Before that was "Attractions" with Bucky Pizzarelli (2007).

Sayer has also become involved as an educator, performing programs about early jazz and the 4-string banjo at colleges, giving lecture/demonstrations for various organizations, teaching workshops while on tour worldwide, giving private lessons, hosting jam sessions, and more. Teaching credits include the New School of Music, where she taught several Traditional Jazz Ensemble Workshops for Jane Ira Bloom's class. Cynthia has also written feature articles for several American and British trade publications, including 'The Resonator, the quarterly newsletter for the non-profit group Banjos Unlimited.[1] "All Frets Magazine", and "Just Jazz Magazine."

Personal life[edit]

Sayer was born in Waltham, Massachusetts, spent her early childhood in Wayland, Massachusetts, and the remainder of her growing up years in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.[2] She took up the banjo when she was thirteen years old. She attended Ithaca College in New York and was graduated magna cum laude with a bachelors degree in English,

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rossi, Frank (1998-present). The Resonator Retrieved 12 September 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Kanzler, George. "Cynthia Sayer brings friends and banjo to Zinno.", The Star-Ledger, April 24, 1998, p. 32. "When she was growing up in Scotch Plains in the '60s and '70s, Cynthia Sayer wanted to be a big- band drummer."


  • The Mississippi Rag, Cynthia Sayer, Banjoist from the Big Apple, by George A. Borgman, June 1994.

External links[edit]