Singer/Composer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s New Album, ‘Mélusine, Due March 24 on Nonesuch Records

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Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is due March 24 on Nonesuch; vinyl is due May 19. Mélusine is a mix of five 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. They tell the folk tale of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday after a childhood curse by her mother. The track “D’un feu secret,” Michel Lambert’s 1660 air de cour, is available today, along with an animated video by Amanda Bonaiuto that may be seen here.

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Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is due March 24, 2023, on Nonesuch Records; vinyl is due May 19. Mélusine features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the twelfth century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. The album track “D’un feu secret,” Michel Lambert’s 1660 air de cour, is available today, along with an animated video by Amanda Bonaiuto that may be seen below. Mélusine follows last year’s label debut, Ghost Song, which has received two Grammy nominations and tremendous critical praise, including spots on best albums of 2022 lists from the New York Times and NPR, among others. The new record may be preordered here.

Salvant has tour dates throughout the spring, including performances at the Big Ears and SFJAZZ Festivals and at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. See below for all of the currently announced dates; for all the latest, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.

The new album’s songs tell the story of the European folkloric legend of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday as a result of a childhood curse by her mother. Mélusine later agrees to marry Raymondin on the condition that he never see her on Saturdays. He agrees but is ultimately convinced by his brother to break his promise, piercing his wife’s door with his sword and finding her naked in the bath, half snake, half woman. When she catches him spying on her, she turns into a dragon and flies out the window, only to reappear every time one of her descendants is on their deathbed.

“I think what I try to do is more akin to revealing secrets than telling stories,” Salvant says. “Revealing secrets is also the snake’s role in the Garden [of Eden]. The snake brings secrets, knowledge, pain, and mayhem.”

She continues, “The story of Mélusine is also the story of the destructive power of the gaze. Raymondin’s sword pierces a hole into her iron door. His gaze does too. The gaze is transformative and combustible. She sees that he is secretly seeing her. Her secret is revealed. This double gaze turns her into a dragon. She can now breathe fire.”

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.”

“‘Dame Iseut,’ the last song of the album, was translated into Haitian Kreyòl with my dad from the Occitan, which is an ancient language spoken in the south of France. My grandmother spoke a little, and her brother used to teach it,” Salvant says. “This album combines elements from French mythology, Haitian Vaudoo, and apocrypha.”

Cécile McLorin Salvant, a 2020 MacArthur Fellow and three-time Grammy Award winner, is a singer and composer bringing historical perspective, a renewed sense of drama, and an enlightened musical understanding to both jazz standards and her own original compositions. 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 nineteenth 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.

Mélusine

1. Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent? (Louis Aragon and Léo Ferré)
2. La route enchantée (Charles Trenet)
3. Il m’a vue nue (Pierre Chagnon, Jean Delabre, François Pruvost, Modesto Romero Martínez, and Georges Thenon)
4. Dites moi que je suis belle (E. Deschamps/anonymous, 14th century)
5. Doudou (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
6. Petite musique terrienne (Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, from the musical Starmania, 1978)
7. Aida (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
8. Mélusine (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
9. Wedo (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
10. D’un feu secret  (Michel Lambert, air de cour, 1660)
11. Le temps est assassin (Veronique Sanson)
12. Fenestra (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
13. Domna N'Almucs (Iseut de Capio, female troubadour,12th century, in Occitan)
14. Dame Iseut (Almucs de Castelneau, female troubadour, 12th century, in Occitan and translated to Haitian Creole by Alix Salvant)

CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT ON TOUR

Jan 26 Royce Hall Los Angeles, CA
Jan 27 Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center Davis, CA
Jan 28 Bing Concert Hall Stanford, CA
Feb 2 Stewart Theatre Raleigh, NC
Feb 3 Knight Concert Hall, Arsht Center Miami, FL
Feb 7 Wisconsin Union Theater Madison, WI
Feb 9 Duncan-Williams Performance Hall Germantown, TN
Feb 10 Cullen Theater Houston, TX
Feb 11 Bass Concert Hall Austin, TX
Feb 24&25 McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, MN
Mar 10 Le Rocher de Palmer Cenon, FRANCE
Mar 11 Maison de la Culture Bourges, FRANCE
Mar 14 New Morning Paris, FRANCE
Mar 16 Théâtre des Sablons Neuilly sur Seine, FRANCE
Mar 17 CCB Lisbon, PORTUGAL
Mar 20 Casa da Música/a> Porto, PORTUGAL
Mar 21 Petrassi Hall Rome, ITALY
Mar 24 Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, ITALY
Mar 30 Koerner Hall Toronto, ON
Apr 1 Big Ears Festival Knoxville, TN
Apr 8 Savannah Music Festival Savannah, GA
Apr 12 Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall Princeton, NJ
Apr 14 Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor, MI
Apr 29 Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center Blacksburg, VA
May 5–7 Miner Auditorium, SFJAZZ Center San Francisco, CA
May 19&20 Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center New York, NY
Jun 7 Alter Schlachthof Dresden, GERMANY
Jun 9 Blohm + Voss Hamburg, GERMANY
Jun 12 Weimarhallen Park Weimar, GERMANY
Jul 26 Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater Chautauqua, NY
     
featuredimage
Cecile McLorin Salvant: 'Melusine' [cover]
  • Thursday, January 26, 2023
    Singer/Composer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s New Album, ‘Mélusine, Due March 24 on Nonesuch Records

    Cécile McLorin Salvant’s new album, Mélusine, is due March 24, 2023, on Nonesuch Records; vinyl is due May 19. Mélusine features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the twelfth century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyòl. The album track “D’un feu secret,” Michel Lambert’s 1660 air de cour, is available today, along with an animated video by Amanda Bonaiuto that may be seen below. Mélusine follows last year’s label debut, Ghost Song, which has received two Grammy nominations and tremendous critical praise, including spots on best albums of 2022 lists from the New York Times and NPR, among others. The new record may be preordered here.

    Salvant has tour dates throughout the spring, including performances at the Big Ears and SFJAZZ Festivals and at New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center. See below for all of the currently announced dates; for all the latest, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.

    The new album’s songs tell the story of the European folkloric legend of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday as a result of a childhood curse by her mother. Mélusine later agrees to marry Raymondin on the condition that he never see her on Saturdays. He agrees but is ultimately convinced by his brother to break his promise, piercing his wife’s door with his sword and finding her naked in the bath, half snake, half woman. When she catches him spying on her, she turns into a dragon and flies out the window, only to reappear every time one of her descendants is on their deathbed.

    “I think what I try to do is more akin to revealing secrets than telling stories,” Salvant says. “Revealing secrets is also the snake’s role in the Garden [of Eden]. The snake brings secrets, knowledge, pain, and mayhem.”

    She continues, “The story of Mélusine is also the story of the destructive power of the gaze. Raymondin’s sword pierces a hole into her iron door. His gaze does too. The gaze is transformative and combustible. She sees that he is secretly seeing her. Her secret is revealed. This double gaze turns her into a dragon. She can now breathe fire.”

    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.”

    “‘Dame Iseut,’ the last song of the album, was translated into Haitian Kreyòl with my dad from the Occitan, which is an ancient language spoken in the south of France. My grandmother spoke a little, and her brother used to teach it,” Salvant says. “This album combines elements from French mythology, Haitian Vaudoo, and apocrypha.”

    Cécile McLorin Salvant, a 2020 MacArthur Fellow and three-time Grammy Award winner, is a singer and composer bringing historical perspective, a renewed sense of drama, and an enlightened musical understanding to both jazz standards and her own original compositions. 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 nineteenth 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.

    Mélusine

    1. Est-ce ainsi que les hommes vivent? (Louis Aragon and Léo Ferré)
    2. La route enchantée (Charles Trenet)
    3. Il m’a vue nue (Pierre Chagnon, Jean Delabre, François Pruvost, Modesto Romero Martínez, and Georges Thenon)
    4. Dites moi que je suis belle (E. Deschamps/anonymous, 14th century)
    5. Doudou (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
    6. Petite musique terrienne (Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, from the musical Starmania, 1978)
    7. Aida (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
    8. Mélusine (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
    9. Wedo (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
    10. D’un feu secret  (Michel Lambert, air de cour, 1660)
    11. Le temps est assassin (Veronique Sanson)
    12. Fenestra (Cécile McLorin Salvant)
    13. Domna N'Almucs (Iseut de Capio, female troubadour,12th century, in Occitan)
    14. Dame Iseut (Almucs de Castelneau, female troubadour, 12th century, in Occitan and translated to Haitian Creole by Alix Salvant)

    CECILE MCLORIN SALVANT ON TOUR

    Jan 26 Royce Hall Los Angeles, CA
    Jan 27 Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center Davis, CA
    Jan 28 Bing Concert Hall Stanford, CA
    Feb 2 Stewart Theatre Raleigh, NC
    Feb 3 Knight Concert Hall, Arsht Center Miami, FL
    Feb 7 Wisconsin Union Theater Madison, WI
    Feb 9 Duncan-Williams Performance Hall Germantown, TN
    Feb 10 Cullen Theater Houston, TX
    Feb 11 Bass Concert Hall Austin, TX
    Feb 24&25 McGuire Theater, Walker Art Center Minneapolis, MN
    Mar 10 Le Rocher de Palmer Cenon, FRANCE
    Mar 11 Maison de la Culture Bourges, FRANCE
    Mar 14 New Morning Paris, FRANCE
    Mar 16 Théâtre des Sablons Neuilly sur Seine, FRANCE
    Mar 17 CCB Lisbon, PORTUGAL
    Mar 20 Casa da Música/a> Porto, PORTUGAL
    Mar 21 Petrassi Hall Rome, ITALY
    Mar 24 Teatro Donizetti Bergamo, ITALY
    Mar 30 Koerner Hall Toronto, ON
    Apr 1 Big Ears Festival Knoxville, TN
    Apr 8 Savannah Music Festival Savannah, GA
    Apr 12 Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall Princeton, NJ
    Apr 14 Hill Auditorium Ann Arbor, MI
    Apr 29 Fife Theatre, Moss Arts Center Blacksburg, VA
    May 5–7 Miner Auditorium, SFJAZZ Center San Francisco, CA
    May 19&20 Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center New York, NY
    Jun 7 Alter Schlachthof Dresden, GERMANY
    Jun 9 Blohm + Voss Hamburg, GERMANY
    Jun 12 Weimarhallen Park Weimar, GERMANY
    Jul 26 Chautauqua Institution Amphitheater Chautauqua, NY
         

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