Korean vocalist Youn Sun Nah draws on influences for new album

Cover.inddFemale singers who manage to stir a whole genre are seldom found. Diana Krall and Norah Jones are such outstanding talents who gave vocal jazz a whole new colour, and Korean singer Youn Sun Nah has been equally phenomenal. In the last few years, she has conquered the music world with her albums Voyage (2009) and Same Girl (2010) released on ACT Music.

Within two years, Nah had received her fourth “Korean Music Award,” the BMW World Jazz Award and the ECHO Jazz Award for best international female singer whilst in France, her second home, Same Girl was the best-selling jazz album of the year in 2011, Nah received the “Prix Mimi Perrin du Jazz Vocal” as female vocalist of the year, the leading magazine “Jazzman” awarded her with “Choc de l’annee 2012” as artist of the year and she was granted the title of nobility “Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the culture secretary, putting her in the prominent company of such stars as David Bowie, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dustin Hoffman.

What is the secret of her remarkable success? Her new album Lento (available on June 11) gives an explanation by combining Nah’s unique qualities. One of them is the blending of different cultural and musical sources, in a respectful yet unconventional manner. Besides jazz and related styles, she draws on chanson, pop and folk music, and in addition to compositions by herself and her band members, there is the extremely light version of the Korean folk song “Arirang” as well as “Hurt” by the alternative rock band Nine Inch Nails, and Stan Jones’ “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” a classic country song made famous by Johnny Cash.

For the first time Nah also calls upon European classical music: Alexander Scriabin’s “Prelude op. 16 No. 4 in E minor” with its tempo indication “Lento” was a source of inspiration for the album’s title, and it also sets up an intimate, atmospheric and harmonious musical world.  Nah unfolds her expressive power especially in the peaceful and slow-paced moments – on the fragile chanson “Full Circle,” with heartbreaking grievance on “Lament” or artistic unison singing on “Momento Magico.”

Vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant signs with Mack Avenue Records   

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Mack Avenue Records is proud to announce the signing of Cécile McLorin Salvant, winner of the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. The announcement comes as the 23-year-old prepares for her debut album in 2013, titled Woman Child.

“Recording for Mack Avenue has been a truly wonderful experience,” said Salvant in a news release. “As a young artist, I have found the support and encouragement that is paramount in this stage of my development.”

Al Pryor, Mack Avenue Record’s executive vice president of A&R, said, “Cécile has the preternatural ability to delve deeply into the core of a song and then serve it up to an audience. Calling on the vocal techniques of Ella, Sarah and Betty Carter, together with the intelligence of Billie Holiday’s phrasing and the wisdom of Bessie Smith’s lyricism, she heralds a new generation of female jazz vocalists. We are thrilled to partner with Cécile as she adds the vocation of recording artist to her journey as a jazz singer and performing artist who will undoubtedly contribute to the legacy of those artists who came before her.”

Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Fla., of a French mother and a Haitian father. She began classical piano studies at age five, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at age eight. Early on, she developed an interest in classical voice, 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 began learning about improvisation, instrumental and vocal repertoire ranging from the 1910s on, and sang with her first band. In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first project Cécile (self-released), with Jean-François Bonnel’s Paris Quintet. A year later, she won the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington D.C., judged by Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Al Jarreau and Dianne Reeves.

With performance experience in Europe as well as the United States, Salvant has been accompanied by renowned musicians such as Jean-Francois Bonnel, Rodney Whitaker, Aaron Diehl, Dan Nimmer, Sadao Watanabe, Jacky Terrasson (with a noted collaboration on his latest album, Gouache), Archie Shepp, and Jonathan Batiste, among others. She has performed at numerous festivals, including Jazz à Vienne, Ascona, Whitley Bay, Montauban, Foix, the Spoleto Jazz Festival, and the Detroit Jazz Festival; with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York’s Rose Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Center; and with her own band at the Kennedy Center. Additionally, for the second consecutive year, her sole voice can be heard backing the CHANEL® “Chance” ad campaign.