Cécile McLorin Salvant

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Cécile McLorin Salvant
Salvant performing in San Francisco in 2014
Salvant performing in San Francisco in 2014
Background information
Born (1989-08-28) August 28, 1989 (age 33)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
LabelsMack Avenue Records

Cécile McLorin Salvant (born August 28, 1989)[1] is an American jazz vocalist.[2][3][4] She was the winner of the first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010,[5] releasing her first album, Cécile, shortly thereafter. Her second album, WomanChild, was released in 2013 on Mack Avenue Records, receiving a 2014 Grammy Award nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Salvant won four categories in the 2014 DownBeat Critics Poll: Jazz Album of the Year, Female Vocalist, Rising Star–Jazz Artist, and Rising Star–Female Vocalist.[6] Her third album, For One to Love, was released on September 5, 2015, to critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, and Los Angeles Times.[7][8][9] It won her the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2016.

Early years[edit]

Cécile Sophie McLorin Salvant was born in Miami, Florida. Her father, who is Haitian, is a doctor and her mother, who is French, is the founder and president of a French immersion school in Miami.[10][1] Salvant began studies in classical piano at the age of five, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society when she was eight. She subsequently developed an interest in classical voice and began studying with private instructors, and later with Edward Walker, vocal teacher at the University of Miami.[11] She said in 2015: "I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where we listened to all kinds of music. We listened to Haitian, hip hop, soul, classical jazz, gospel and Cuban music, to name a few. When you have access to that as a child, it just opens up your world."[12]

In 2007, Salvant moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study law as well as classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel [fr], that she studied improvisation, instrumental and vocal repertoire, and sang with her first band.[10][11]

In a four-star review of her sold-out engagement at Ronnie Scott's Club in London in June 2015, John Fordham wrote in The Guardian: "She brings ideas from unexpected angles to the familiar art of standards-singing, and she applies a mischievous intelligence to well-worn lyrics in ways that transform them."[13]

Musical career[edit]

Salvant began studying voice at the age of eight with an interest in classical music. She began her transition into jazz while studying at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory in 2007, and also studied composition and music theory at The New School.[14] Salvant says that her main jazz influence is Sarah Vaughan, recalling childhood memories of listening to her songs repeatedly. While strongly influenced by Sarah Vaughan, she is also heavily influenced by vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Betty Carter. She describes her sound as jazz, blues, with elements of folk and musical theatre. She composes music and lyrics which she also sings in French, her native language, as well as in Spanish. She enjoys popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, and festivals accompanied by renowned musicians. Salvant has performed at jazz venues and festivals including Ronnie Scott's,[15] the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, and the Village Vanguard.[16][1]

In 2010, Salvant released her first self-titled album, Cécile & the Jean-François Bonnel Paris Quintet. Soon thereafter, at the age of 21, she went on to win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition for vocalists. Her first-prize win included a recording contract with the label Mack Avenue Records, with whom she released her next two albums. Writing in The New York Times in 2012, Ben Ratliff said: "In front of a trio led by the pianist Aaron Diehl she sings clearly, with her full pitch range, from a pronounced low end to full and distinct high notes, used sparingly [...] Her voice clamps into each song, performing careful variations on pitch, stretching words but generally not scatting; her face conveys meaning, representing sorrow or serenity like a silent-movie actor."[10]

In 2013 she released her second album WomanChild, which was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award in the category of Best Vocal Jazz Album. The songs chosen for WomanChild include original compositions, as well as compositions that date back to the 19th century and progress into the 21st. Salvant chose the songs for this album based on songs she felt had a personal connection to her life.

In September 2015, Salvant released her second album with Mack Avenue Records, titled For One to Love. On this album, she chose songs that focus attention on strong women and independence. The album contains five original works and jazz standards. In 2016, the album won a Grammy for Best Vocal Jazz Album. Two years later, her third album with Mack Avenue, Dreams and Daggers, won a Grammy in the same category.[17]

She has toured with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, whose music director Wynton Marsalis was quoted in a 2017 New Yorker article as saying of Salvant: "You get a singer like this once in a generation or two."[1]

In January 2023, Nonesuch Records announced the release of Salvant's seventh album. The album, titled Mélusine recounts the European folk legend of Melusine and largely features songs sung in French and Haitian Creole. The album was released digitally on March 24, 2023.[18]

Salvant has sung in advertisements for Chanel's "Chance" brand of products.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (2010)
  • Jazz Album of the Year, DownBeat Critics Poll, WomanChild (2014)
  • Best Vocal Jazz Album, Grammy Award nomination, WomanChild (2014)
  • Top Vocal Album, NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll 2014, WomanChild,
  • Female Vocalist of the Year, 2015, Jazz Journalists Association
  • Top Vocal Album, NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll 2015, For One to Love
  • Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2016, For One to Love
  • Paul Acket Award 2016
  • Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2018, Dreams and Daggers
  • Jazz Album of the Year, DownBeat Critics Poll, Dreams and Daggers (2018)[19]
  • Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album 2019, The Window[20]
  • Glenn Gould Protege Prize Recipient, awarded by Jessye Norman at the Twelfth Glenn Gould Prize Gala (2019)[21]
  • Macarthur Genius Grant Winner (2020)[22]
  • Jazz Journalists Association's Jazz Award for Female Vocalist of the Year (2022)[23]


As lead artist



  1. ^ a b c d Kaplan, Fred, "Cécile McLorin Salvant's Timeless Jazz", The New Yorker, May 22, 2017.
  2. ^ "Jazz Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant Doesn't Want To Sound 'Clean And Pretty'". NPR.org. November 4, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  3. ^ Whitehead, Kevin (June 18, 2013). "Cécile McLorin Salvant: Making Old Songs New Again". NPR.org. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Wallace, Marissa (April 11, 2014). "Getting to Know Cécile McLorin Salvant - JetMag.com". Jet Magazine. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  5. ^ Midgette, Anne (October 6, 2010). "Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist Competition 2010 at Kennedy Center". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ "Salvant Wins Four Categories in DownBeat Critics Poll". downbeat.com. July 2014. Archived from the original on 2015-03-16. Retrieved 2016-09-02.
  7. ^ Chinen, Nate, "Review: Cécile McLorin Salvant Wields Her Power, Drawing From Her Album ‘For One to Love’", The New York Times, August 26, 2015.
  8. ^ Lewis, John, "Cécile McLorin Salvant: For One to Love review – more like heightened music-theatre than jazz", The Guardian, September 3, 2015.
  9. ^ Wood, Mikael, "Review: Cecile McLorin Salvant is still pushing herself with 'For One to Love'", Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Ratliff, Ben (November 2, 2012). "A Young Vocalist Tweaks Expectations". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  11. ^ a b "English bio". Cecile McLorin Salvant. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  12. ^ Brown, Latheleene Ademola (October 20, 2015). "Singer Cecile McLorin Salvant Talks New Album, and Her Personal Journey to Jazz". Essence.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  13. ^ Fordham, John (June 4, 2015). "Cecile McLorin Salvant review – jazz-informed artistry of the highest class". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Chinen, Kaplan, Fred "Cécile McLorin Salvant’s Timeless Jazz", The New Yorker, May 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Lauren, Jade, "Cecile McLorin Salvant at Ronnie Scott's" Archived 2019-03-27 at the Wayback Machine, London Jazz News, October 8, 2013.
  16. ^ Chinen, Nate, "Cécile McLorin Salvant, With Refined Power, Performs at the Jazz Standard", The New York Times, August 19, 2015.
  17. ^ "Cécile McLorin Salvan: Grammy Awards & Nominations". Grammy.com. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Singer/Composer Cécile McLorin Salvant's New Album, 'Mélusine, Due March 24 on Nonesuch Records". nonesuch.com. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  19. ^ "Jazz Album of the Year, DownBeat Critics Poll, Dreams and Daggers". DownBeat. August 2018. p. 52.
  20. ^ Robinson, Tasha (February 11, 2019). "2019 Grammys: the complete list of winners". The Verge.
  21. ^ Vincent, Michael (10 January 2019). "American Jazz Musician Named Winner of The Glenn Gould Protégé Prize". Ludwig van Toronto.
  22. ^ Jacobs, Julia (2020-10-06). "MacArthur 'Genius' Grant Winners for 2020: The Full List". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-10-06.
  23. ^ "2022 Winners for Jazz Performance and Recordings". JJA Jazz Awards. May 3, 2022.

External links[edit]