Cécile McLorin Salvant (born 1989) is an American jazz vocalist. She was the winner of the first prize in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, releasing her first album, Cecile, shortly thereafter. Her second album, WomanChild, was released in 2013 on Mack Avenue Records. In 2014 Salvant was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Salvant won four categories in the 2014 Down Beat Critics Poll: Jazz Album of the Year, Female Vocalist, Rising Star–Jazz Artist and Rising Star–Female Vocalist.
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. It won her the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2016.
Salvant was born in Miami, Florida, to a Haitian father doctor and a French mother, who is the founder and president of a French immersion school in Miami. 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.
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, that she studied improvisation, instrumental and vocal repertoire ranging from the 1910s, and sang with her first band.
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."
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. 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. Cécile performs little-known, seldom-recorded jazz and blues compositions. 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 such as Ronnie Scott's in London, The Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island, and more. She is the voice of Chanel's "Chance" ad campaign for the third consecutive year.
In 2010, Salvant released her first self-titled album Cecile. Soon there after, at the age of 21, Cecile went on to showcase her talents and win the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition for vocalists. Her first prize win included a recording contract with the record label Mack Avenue Records with whom she has released her last two albums.
She released her second album WomanChild in 2013 which led to several accomplishments. WomanChild was nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award under the category of Best Vocal Jazz Album. The songs chosen for this album include original compositions, as well as compositions that date back from 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 under Mack Avenue Records titled For One to Love. On this album, Salvant chose to focus her attention towards strong women and independence. The album contains five original works and jazz standards. In 2016, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album.
Awards and Nominations
Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition (2010)
NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll: Top Five (2013)
DownBeat Critics Poll: Jazz Album of the Year WomanChild (2014)
Jazz Journalists Association: Female Vocalist of the Year (2015)
Grammy Award Winner: Best Jazz Vocal Album For One to Love (2016)
Grammy Award Nominee: Best Vocal Jazz Album WomanChild (2014)
Grammy Award Winner : Best Vocal Jazz Album For One to Love (2016)