Cécile McLorin Salvant: clear as crystal and cool as jazz

We’ve spoken here and here about jazz singers like Amy Winehouse or Gregory Porter ghosting hard consonants like t or d at the end of their words, smoothing the sound to suit their music.

There is another way.

Cécile McLorin Salvant maintains a perfect jazz mood, without sacrificing a single consonant. Watch her tell the story of Poor Butterfly:

Every word as clear as crystal. Every consonant sharp and pure.

When you’re singing a story song, you need to help your audience to hear enough of the important words clearly, so that they can follow you safely through the narrative. Otherwise they will worry that they’ve missed something. If the song is famous, your job is easier, but if you’re singing something less well known, like Poor Butterfly, be kind and be clear.

A distracted audience is not a happy audience.

It’s up to you how you communicate clearly with your audience. Cécile’s with Cab Calloway and Oscar Brown Jr. on the clarity front. Gregory Porter‘s with Amy Winehouse on the moody ghost consonant front.

Which do you prefer?

© Sing Better English, 2014


4 thoughts on “Cécile McLorin Salvant: clear as crystal and cool as jazz”

  1. I immediately thought of Eydie Gorme when I heard her. Similar voice and clear diction. I have always considered Eydie to be one of the finest vocalists ever: Range, power, style, and absolutely impeccable, effortless pronunciation! I did a post on her passing (8-18-13 in my blog archives). I am going to check whether she ever sang Poor Butterfly: Love the song; loved Eydie’s voice!


    1. That would be interesting.
      I know Eydie Gormé http://bit.ly/1Bw4TRX from her work with Trio Los Panchos:
      – Noche de Ronda is one of my favourites. As you say, impeccable pronunciation – I was truly surprised to find out that she wasn’t a native speaker of Spanish.
      I’ve not listened to Eydie singing in English – can you recommend a good place to start?


  2. There are a surprising number of CD’s available through Amazon.com – a tribute to her memory and talent. The one pictured on my archived blog post on Eydie is titled “Eydie Gorme – The Essence of Eydie,” a two-disc set from Jasmine. I have this one, and it includes some of her best numbers. Thanks for the mention and reminder of her Trio Los Panchos albums: I plan to purchase one!

    Liked by 1 person

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