Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vocalist Tuned Up for Gala

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vocalist Tuned Up for Gala

Article excerpt

When Cyrille Aimee sings, her crystalline voice shimmers within an intoxicating blend of gypsy swing, jazz and Brazilian rhythms provided by her band. The name of her seventh recording, released last month, is "It's A Good Day," and that is a fine description of the 30-year-old vocalist's career so far.

The vocalist, whose name is pronounced SUR-real M-A, won the Montreux Jazz Festival's Vocal Competition in 2007. In 2012, she won first place at the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Last November, she acted and sang with Bernadette Peters in an Encores Special Presentation of Stephen Sondheim's music at City Center in New York City.

"It was really my first time in the Broadway world. It was really a great experience," she said during a telephone interview Tuesday from Brooklyn, N.Y., where she has lived for the past five years.

Ms. Aimee, who performs Saturday night at the O'Reilly Theater during the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's annual gala, has a voice that is breathy, girlish and, at times, seductive. Her tone and phrasing may remind some listeners of Stacey Kent, a renowned American singer and Grammy Award-winning artist.

Born in France to a French father and Dominican mother, Ms. Aimee grew up in Samois-sur-Seine, the village where legendary gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt retired and where an annual musical festival is held in his honor each June. As a teenager, she was fascinated by the annual gathering of itinerant Romany musicians.

"At first I was just really obsessed with their way of life and the culture. It was so new and so beautiful. I became friends with them. I wanted to be around them and film them. I also like their language," she said.

But her parents were concerned.

"People were telling my parents, 'They have a bad reputation.' They thought the gypsies were going to take me and marry me. …

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