Cécile McLorin Salvant wins MacArthur Foundation’s ‘genius grant’

Jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant is one of 21 people to be awarded this year’s MacArthur Foundation fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”

The fellowships are awarded annually to about two dozen writers, scientists, scholars and other individuals in a variety of fields who have “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.” They each come with a $625,000 grant to be used over five years.

The MacArthur Foundation recognized Salvant for “using manifold powers of interpretation to infuse jazz standards and original compositions with a vibrant, global, Black, feminist sensibility … Salvant is reaffirming the timelessness of jazz as an art form and demonstrating its continuing cultural relevance in a fast-changing world.”

It’s the latest in a long list of awards and honours for Salvant. The singer has won three Grammy Awards for best jazz vocal album, including for 2019’s The Window. Last year, she was awarded the Glenn Gould Protege Prize. In 2015, she was named the female vocalist of the year by the Jazz Journalists Association. In 2010, she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, helping to kick off her music career.

Salvant is the only musician in the 2020 group of recipients. Last year’s honourees included the avant-garde jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson.

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