Cécile McLorin Salvant

Shortly before the release of Cécile McLorin Salvant’s debut Mack Avenue album WomanChild, critic Ben Ratliff made a bold prediction in the pages of the New York Times. McLorin Salvant, he claimed, “is still mostly unknown to jazz audiences”—then added: “though not for much longer.”

McLorin Salvant has more than validated that forecast. The last 24 months have been a whirlwind of success and acclaim for the young vocalist, who first came to the attention of jazz fans with her triumph at the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. WomanChild went on to earn a bevy of honors, including a GRAMMY® Award-nomination and selection as Jazz Album Of The Year by the DownBeat International Critics Poll.

That magazine also honored McLorin Salvant in three other categories including Best Female Jazz Vocalist. A few months later, the Jazz Journalists Association selected McLorin Salvant as Up-and-Coming Jazz Artist Of The Year and as Top Female Vocalist. NPR also took, honoring WomanChild as the Best Jazz Vocal Album Of The Year in its annual critics poll. In short, no jazz singer of recent memory has garnered up more honors more quickly than Cécile McLorin Salvant.

Now she has released her follow-up Mack Avenue album, For One To Love—which won Salvant her first GRAMMY® Award in the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category at the 58th Annual GRAMMY® Awards—a more intimate and confessional project that reveals new dimensions of this young vocalist’s artistry. “I’m not playing anyone else here but myself,” McLorin Salvant explains. “I can look at many of these songs, and see that this is an event that really happened, or a feeling I’ve lived through myself. “That’s what makes it so difficult to share. It’s almost like a diary entry.”

McLorin Salvant grew up in a bilingual household in Miami, the child of a French mother and Haitian father. She started piano studies at age five, and at eight began singing with the Miami Choral Society. After graduating from Coral Reef Senior High, a premier Miami magnet school, McLorin Salvant decided to pursue her education in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, where troubadours invented the Western love song almost one thousand years ago. In this unlikely setting, McLorin Salvant embarked on a new career as a jazz performer, while pursuing a degree in French law and her training as a classical and baroque singer.

Three years later, McLorin Salvant returned to the US as a semifinalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. She had entered the contest at the urging of her mother, but almost missed the submission deadline. “On the last day, I mailed the audition recording with an apology for not getting it in sooner,” she recalls.

Then the call came inviting her to Washington D.C. for the contest. Here an illustrious panel of judges—Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Patti Austin and Al Jarreau—took note of McLorin Salvant’s remarkable voice and striking ability to inhabit the emotional space of every song she heard and turn it into a compelling personal statement. This surprise contender, the unheralded American jazz singer from France, took the top spot in the jazz world’s most demanding competition.

“She brought down the house,” The Washington Post told its readers the next day. Less than three years after first performing with a jazz band, writer Anne Midgette noted, McLorin Salvant was already singing “like a seasoned pro. Her marathon is just beginning.”

Others were now taking notice. “She has poise, elegance, soul, humor, sensuality, power, virtuosity, range, insight, intelligence, depth and grace,” announced Wynton Marsalis. “If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three—Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald—it is this 23-year-old virtuoso,” added Stephen Holden in the New York Times. The release of WomanChild both backed up these claims and introduced McLorin Salvant’s music to a host of new listeners. The up-and-coming vocalist was now a legitimate jazz star.

In more recent months, McLorin Salvant’s work has moved beyond the jazz world and entered into the broader culture. You can hear it on commercials for Chanel, or in the soundtrack for the HBO show Bessie. But this crossover success has come without compromise. As critic Nate Chinen aptly notes, “whatever else you might say about her,” McLorin Salvant sounds “clearly, unmistakably like a jazz singer.”

Now McLorin Salvant makes an even bolder statement with, For One To Love. This may be the defining jazz statement on romance in the new millennium, a heartfelt album that both embodies the full range of the American popular song idiom, but distills it into a distinctly personal expression of a modern-day poet-troubadour.

On the new album, McLorin Salvant again shows her uncanny knack of channeling her own personality into the work of her predecessors, both the acclaimed (Bessie Smith) and the less well-known (Blanche Calloway, whose fame during her lifetime was eclipsed by her brother Cab). “I’ve made some choices about celebrating strong women,” McLorin Salvant explains. “And I want to celebrate independence, the courage not to look or act a certain way.”

McLorin Salvant is increasingly making her strongest musical statements via her own compositions, which stand out as the centerpiece on the new project. Five of the tracks on For One To Love feature her songs, and here she reminds us of those other great jazz singers, from Billie Holiday to Abbey Lincoln, who found that the most powerful expressions of moods and feelings often came via their own compositions.

And McLorin Salvant also shares her vision as a visual artist in the design of the album. This field has been a focus in recent years: both at home in Harlem and on the road, she works on painting and drawing, and is currently preparing for her first exhibition. “Music chose me,” she reflects; “in a way, I stumbled upon it. But illustrating is something I’ve chosen to do.”

In short, her distinctive artistry shapes every aspect of this project. For One To Love serves as proof positive that Cécile McLorin Salvant has not only arrived, but she is still going places.

Comments are closed.

There are no upcoming dates to display at this time.

Cécile McLorin Salvant announces new album “Dreams and Daggers”

“You get a singer like this once in a generation or two.” – Wynton Marsalis  “Salvant has a supple, well-trained voice with spot-on pitch. (No vibrato-teases; no meandering warbles passing as melisma.) Her low notes go from husky to full-bodied; her high notes float purely and cleanly. When she scats, …
Continue reading

Mack Avenue Records Congratulates Christian McBride and Cécile McLorin Salvant on 2015 GRAMMY® Award Wins

Mack Avenue Records Congratulates Christian McBride and Cécile McLorin Salvant on 2015 GRAMMY® Award Wins Mack Avenue Records would like to congratulate bassist Christian McBride and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant on their wins at the 2015 GRAMMY® Awards. McBride received his fifth GRAMMY® Award in the Best Improvised Jazz Solo category …
Continue reading

Mack Avenue Records’ Brightest Stars Jazz Up the Holiday Season with “It’s Christmas on Mack Avenue” – Available October 28

  Mack Avenue Records’ Brightest Stars Jazz Up the Holiday Season with It’s Christmas on Mack Avenue – Available October 28 Stream Tracks from It’s Christmas on Mack Avenue Mack Avenue Records has assembled a stellar family of artists over the last fifteen years, and what better time is there to gather the family …
Continue reading

92Y JAZZ IN JULY FESTIVAL Celebrates 30th Anniversary – July 21-31, 2014

      92Y JAZZ IN JULY FESTIVAL  Celebrates 30th Anniversary – July 21-31, 2014    Featuring: Cécile McLorin Salvant, Dick Hyman,  Jeremy Pelt, Ralph Moore, Christian Sands, Lewis Nash, Sachal Vasandani, Renee Rosnes, George Mraz, Jessie Davis, Steve Wilson, Ken Peplowski, Brian Lynch, and More    92Y announces the 30th Annual 92Y …
Continue reading

Vocalist CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT Celebrates a Landmark Year Following the Release of her Critically Acclaimed Debut Recording, “WomanChild”

    Vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant Celebrates a Landmark Year Following the Release of her Critically Acclaimed Debut Recording, WomanChild   Grammy® Award Nominated for “Best Jazz Vocal Album” ‘Best Vocal Album of the Year’ by the Académie du Jazz and Winner of France’s Coup de Coeur Révélation Award   Winner …
Continue reading

“…honors the past while boldly living in the present.” – Downbeat

“Salvant’s unusual material sets her apart as much as her chops do.” – NPR: Fresh Air

“This is easily one of the strongest debut albums by a vocalist in years.” – The New York Daily News

“Salvant’s hotly anticipated debut more than justifies the hype.”JazzTimes

“An exciting disc in quite a few ways.” – Buffalo News

“Salvant seems equipped to begin a swift march toward marquee status.” – Downbeat

“If Cécile McLorin Salvant isn’t yet on your radar, WomanChild will put her there.”Blogcritics.com

WomanChild is a stellar debut.”The Jazz Line

“Searing, burning, and intense.”San Diego County News

  • Dreams and Daggers Album Cover

  • Cecile 1

  • Cecile 2

  • Cecile 3

  • Cecile 4