Cyrille Aimée's life is one big adventure. As a child, she climbed out of her bedroom window to hear the Gypsy music at the Django Reinhardt Festival up close. She played music on the street corners of various European cities and sang in Parisian cafés. She later moved to the United States to study and be close to Manhattan's jazz clubs. She has won the Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition and reached the finals of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition. Steven Sondheim discovered her for the world of musical theatre. And the New York Times has described her as one of the most brilliant stars in the galaxy of jazz singers.
Born to a French father and a Dominican mother, she grew up in the French town of Samois-sur-Seine, where the aforementioned window-climbing episode took place. Aside from Gypsy jazz, her parents familiarised her with the most diverse possible range of musical styles, ranging from Michael Jackson and flamenco to chanson and country. She studied at the American School of Music in Paris and, once again driven by her lust for adventure, applied to the French television talent search show Star Acade...my. When she was voted into the semi-finals, she walked out on the organisers rather than sign a restrictive contract, which caused something of a scandal in the French media. In the United States, in addition to winning the competitions, it meant a great deal to her to be able to take the stage on a weekly basis at the legendary Birdland and the Smalls Jazz Club, where the late trumpeter Roy Hargrove also played. She and her group the Surreal Band would play music combining French, Brazilian, Gypsy and Latin elements. The extraordinary talent with which she delivered each song as a riveting story was recognised by Steve Sondheim, the iconic figure of the music world, who arranged for her to perform at New York City Center with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. For her, improvisation is not merely a means of expression, but an essential part of life.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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