Singer Cécile McLorin Salvant rewrites jazz history
MacArthur Fellow and three-time Grammy-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant transforms jazz history with a dramatic flair and clear-eyed take on jazz standards. Experience her astonishingly limitless voice when she performs at the Moss Arts Center with her band on Saturday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m.
The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.
Classically trained, Salvant embraces a wide-ranging repertoire, broadening the possibilities for live performance. With a passion for the deepest stories of our culture, she finds connections between vaudeville, blues, theatre, jazz, baroque, and folkloric music. An eclectic curator with a rich imagination, Salvant unearths rarely recorded, forgotten songs with strong narratives, interesting power dynamics, unexpected twists, and humor.
A Salvant concert could include a Kurt Weill piece, a French chanson, a selection from the musical “Hair,” and an ancient Scottish ballad, all deftly connected with a thematic through-line and the singer’s warm stage presence.
Salvant’s latest album tells the story of Mélusine, a character from 14th-century French mythology. Half-woman, half-snake, Mélusine turns into a dragon and takes flight after she is spied on by her betraying lover. Salvant’s album, “Mélusine,” features originals and interpretations of nine songs dating as far back as the 12th century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. It illustrates Salvant’s vision and fearlessness, going in exhilarating musical directions. Rather than a literal telling-in-song of the tale, the album is a cycle of impressions expressing the story’s key turns.
“Revealing secrets is even more intimate than telling a story,” said Salvant. “Once you’ve told someone a secret, you’re bonded together for life. I like to approach my performances like that. I’m trying to capture that level of intimacy.”
“Mélusine” follows Salvant’s 2022 album, “Ghost Song,” which received two Grammy nominations and spots on best albums of 2022 lists from the New York Times and NPR, among others. “Ghost Song” explores the many ways people can be haunted — by lingering memories, roads not taken, ghosts real and imagined. Its intense, disquietingly evocative songs follow living souls as they confront torments of absence.
Salvant won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2010. She has received three consecutive Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album for “The Window,” “Dreams and Daggers,” and “For One to Love,” and was nominated for the award in 2014 for her album, “WomanChild.” In 2020 Salvant received the MacArthur fellowship and the Doris Duke Artist Award.
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, of a French mother and Haitian father, Salvant started classical piano studies at age five, sang in a children’s choir at age eight, and started classical voice lessons as a teenager. She received a bachelor’s degree 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.
Tickets for the performance are $20-45 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.
Free parking is available for Moss Arts Center patrons in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street beginning one hour prior to the performance. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.
If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email email@example.com during regular business hours.