Cécile McLorin Salvant

Performance Year: 2023

Cécile McLorin Salvant is a composer, singer, and visual artist, who the late Jessye Norman described as “a unique voice supported by an intelligence and full-fledged musicality which lights up every note she sings.”

MacArthur Fellow and three-time GRAMMY winner Cécile McLorin Salvant has a gift for storytelling and curating layered, evocative programs that draw connections between vaudeville, blues, international folk traditions, theater, jazz, and classical music. Salvant is an eclectic curator, unearthing rarely recorded and forgotten songs with strong narratives, interesting power dynamics, unexpected twists, and humor. Since winning the Thelonius Monk competition in 2010, Cécile McLorin Salvant has received GRAMMY Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album for three consecutive albums: The Window, Dreams and Daggers, and For One To Love. Ghost Song, Salvant’s debut for Nonesuch Records, was released in March 2022 to critical acclaim and has gone on to receive two GRAMMY Nominations. In March of 2023, Nonesuch Records released her highly anticipated follow-up, Mélusine, an album mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl.

Salvant’s latest work, Ogresse, is a musical fable in the form of a cantata that blends the genres of folk, baroque, jazz, and country. Salvant wrote the story, lyrics, and music. It is arranged by Darcy James Argue for a thirteen-piece orchestra of multi-instrumentalists. Ogresse, both a biography and a mythography and an homage to Gerard Fortune and Sara Baartman, explores fetishism, hunger, diaspora, cycles of appropriation, lies, othering, and ecology. It is in development to become an animated feature-length film that Salvant will direct.

Born and raised in Miami, Florida to a French mother and Haitian father, she started classical piano studies at 5, sang in a children’s choir at 8, and started classical voice lessons as a teenager. Salvant received a bachelor’s in French law from the Université Pierre-Mendes France in Grenoble while also studying baroque music and jazz at the Darius Milhaud Music Conservatory in Aix-en-Provence, France.

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