CÉCILE MCLORIN SALVANT grew up in a bilingual household in Miami, the child of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started piano studies at age five, and at eight began singing with the Miami Choral Society. After graduating high school, McLorin Salvant decided to pursue her education in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. In this unlikely setting, she 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.
Her 2016 Grammy-winning album, For One To Love, 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 album, McLorin Salvant 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.”
“If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three – Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald – it is this 26-year-old virtuoso.” — Stephen Holden in The New York Times.