We are honored to have the opportunity to present this exclusive interview for GoAragón with the extraordinary and acclaimed jazz singer, Cecile McLorin. As part of the prestigious Musica al Raso Festival in Zaragoza, we met with this outstanding artist whose seductive voice and innate talent have captivated audiences around the world. With her unique style and emotion-filled performance, Cecile has left an indelible mark on the contemporary jazz scene.
In this interview, we will explore her career, her passion for music and her artistic vision. Join us on this musical journey as we discover the thoughts and experiences of Cecile McLorin, a true gem of jazz music.
You are recognized as a talented jazz singer and have been praised for your unique and versatile performance. How would you describe your musical style and what inspires you to create your songs?
I think my musical style has a lot of different influences, from all over the world, and from different time periods. I’m mostly inspired by lyrics, and stories, and images.
Tell us about your previous works and your latest work. Let’s start with the basics: why did you want to become a jazz singer?
I didn’t want to be a jazz singer. I wanted to be an opera singer! Because I wanted to play roles and get into character.
I know it’s been a few years, but, please, answer this question: at 21, you won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, your 2013 album WomanChild spanned three centuries of American music and introduced the world to your charismatic voice and boundless energy. She won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album for her 2015 album. How has she survived this success?
It was nothing to survive! It was really lucky and I felt grateful and celebrated, but my focus has always been on the next project and the current project, not past projects.
You’ve released several acclaimed albums throughout your career. What can you tell us about your latest work and how it was received by audiences and critics?
I make sure to not know how audiences and critics react to my music. Otherwise I would get paralyzed. I did read an incredible essay by Dr Angela Davis about Mélusine, my latest album, and that really moved me so much because of how much I admire her, and love her writing, and her way of thinking. She understood what I am trying to do on a really deep level, deeper than even I understand.
A few years ago you said that your work was about moving people, do you still feel the same way?
Yes! Moving people and making them move!
“In times of loneliness and fear, it is instinctive to want to talk about love”, are we in a time of fear?
Aren’t we always afraid of something? There are the great societal fears, the historical fears, but there are also personal, small, intimate, secret fears. If someone is afraid of nothing, they are dead!
About your creative process and your usual day. Could you tell us a little about your creative process – how do you compose and choose the songs you perform?
I spend a lot of time listening to music and I try to be open and listen to as much different kind of music as I can. The only way I’ve composed has been sitting at the piano and looking out the window. Composing songs feels like remembering songs to me.
We know you are a very busy artist, what is your normal day like and how do you find the time and space to nurture your creativity?
The normal day depends on where I am. If I’m touring, there is no normal day. We just go from place to place, try to rest when we can, and try to make it through the tour, explore cities as much as we can with limited time, and do the gigs. If I’m at home, I usually write in the morning, I go on a walk, I sit at the piano and explore, I make drawings.
There is one word that appears with unusual frequency in your statements: “Obsession”. Are you obsessive?
Yes! But like with fear, I think everyone has their obsessions. It’s just what we are obsessed with is different.
it’s extremely important to have events where people can come together in person and experience something without their phones or their screens.
What type of music has influenced you the most over the years and how has it affected your style and approach?
Not one type of music has influenced me the most. I don’t get influenced by categories or genres. I get influenced by specific artists. People like Camaron de la Isla, Lole Montoya, Maria Callas, Puccini and Charlie Parker have been really important to me over the last 6 months. 10 years ago, I was really influenced by Bessie Smith, Babs Gonzales, Blossom Dearie, Blanche Calloway. It changes with the seasons. I don’t know how these influences show up. I think it would be easier for someone other than me to analyze that.
Other than jazz, what other genres of music do you enjoy listening to in your spare time?
It depends. I listen to everything. I don’t say this lightly. I really listen to everything and anything that I like from any period of time. These days I’m listening to La Bohème by Puccini, with Callas and Di Stefano. In January I was only listening to La Leyenda del Tiempo, every single day.
Zaragoza’s Musica al raso festival is known for promoting cultural and musical diversit. What do you think about the importance of this type of event for the local and international music scene?
I think it’s extremely important to have events where people can come together in person and experience something without their phones or their screens. I think it is incredibly healing.
What do you expect from your update? What do you like to transmit during your concerts?
I try not to think in advance about concerts. I don’t even really like to think about it during the day of the concert. I just try to live in the moment when I’m there. When I’m singing, I want to create a really close bond with the audience, I want them to feel like I’m telling them a secret, and like anything can happen.
You have visited Spain several times during your career. What do you like about this country and its culture in general? Is there anything you particularly like about Spanish food?
I want to move to Spain, that is how much I love it. I have idealista on my phone, and have actually visited homes that I was considering. I love Spanish food, I love the language, and the culture and the music.
Other than music, do you have any other hobbies or pastimes that you enjoy when you are not working on your music?
Visual art and reading.
I read that you had stated that you wanted to “bring something substantial to the world”. Do you think you have achieved this, and are you contributing?
I don’t know why I said that! I never agree with things I say in previous interviews. I think I want something simpler than that. Something having to do with the specific people in my audiences. I want them to be moved, to be consoled, to be encouraged, to feel energized, and especially, to laugh.
What are your next projects and goals in your musical career? Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans and the readers of our newspaper?
I am working on a few upcoming albums and I am making a movie. It will be an animated feature length film with my music!