Cynthia Sayer

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Cynthia Sayer
Sketch at Jazz in Marciac festival, France
Background information
Born (1962-05-20)May 20, 1962
Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Genres Jazz, classical
Occupation(s) Musician, singer
Instruments Banjo
Years active 1979–present
Labels Jazzology, Plunk

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.


Sayer is a founding member of Woody Allen's New Orleans Jazz Band. She appears in the documentary about Allen, Wild Man Blues and its soundtrack and on the album The Bunk Project (1993). She has performed on Allen's movies The Purple Rose of Cairo, Bullets Over Broadway, Anything Else, and Magic in the Moonlight. She has also played on a number of other feature film and TV show soundtracks, including The Cosby Mysteries. In 1982, she recorded with Marvin Hamlisch for the soundtrack for Sophie's Choice.

Sayer has been a guest on numerous TV and radio show programs, including the National Public Radio show, Piano Jazz, NDR Talk Show in Germany, and Woman's Hour in England, and Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. She was filmed for the 2011 PBS documentary, Give Me the Banjo, was featured in Downbeat magazine in 2013.

Sayer tours with her bands, Cynthia Sayer & Joyride, Cynthia Sayer & Sparks Fly, and Cynthia Sayer's Women of the World Jazz Band (WOW). Her albums included Attractions with Bucky Pizzarelli and Joyride with Charlie Giordano. She has performed at the White House, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall.

In 2006 she was inducted into the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame, which is part of the American Banjo Museum.

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. She 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; All Frets, and Just Jazz.

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.[1] She took up the banjo when she was thirteen years old. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in English.


  • Jazz at Home (Jazzology, 1996)
  • String Swing (Jazzology, 2000)
  • Attractions (Plunk, 2007)
  • Joyride (Plunk, 2013)
  • You're IN The Band" Play-Along Program - Book + CDs (Plunk, 2016)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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]