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Cécile McLorin Salvant

About this Artist

Cécile McLorin Salvant, a 2020 MacArthur Fellow and three-time Grammy winner, is a multidisciplinary artist bringing historical perspective, a renewed sense of drama, and an enlightened musical understanding to songs that span genre and time period in addition to her own original compositions. Salvant is an eclectic curator, unearthing rarely recorded, forgotten songs with strong narratives, interesting power dynamics, unexpected twists, and humor. Classically trained, steeped in jazz, blues, and folk, and drawing from musical theater and vaudeville, Salvant embraces a wide-ranging repertoire that broadens the possibilities for live performance.

Salvant’s performances range from spare duets for voice and piano to instrumental trios to orchestral ensembles. Her unreleased work Ogresse is an ambitious long-form musical fable based on oral fairy tales from the 19th century that explores the nature of freedom and desire in a racialized, patriarchal world.

Salvant studied at the Université Pierre Mendès-France. She has performed at national and international venues and festivals such as the Newport Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Village Vanguard, and the Kennedy Center. Salvant is also a visual artist.

Her album Mélusine was released in March 2023 on Nonesuch Records. Mélusine features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the 12th century, sung mostly in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. Mélusine follows her 2022 label debut Ghost Song, both of which received two Grammy nominations and tremendous critical praise, including spots on year-end best album lists from The New York Times and NPR.

Salvant, whose parents are French and Haitian, says Mélusine is also “partly about that feeling of being a hybrid, a mixture of different cultures, which I’ve experienced not only as the American-born child of two first-generation immigrants, but as someone raised in a family that is racially mixed, from several different countries, with different languages spoken in the home.”