Cyrille Aimée: A Sondheim Adventure at SOPAC
Sunday, March 31, 2019 at 7:30PM at SOPAC
Winner of the 2012 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition, the native of France was captivated by Sondheim’s work when she was cast in a 2013 New York City Center production of A Bed and a Chair: A New York Love Story. She eventually recorded “Live Alone and Like It” and from there plunged into a full album of Sondheim.
Cyrille Aimée, has a wealth of experiences in her young life that have shaped her sound, and love of music. She ventured from singing on street corners in Europe to dazzling audiences at the world’s most prestigious Jazz festivals; from sneaking out to sing in gypsy encampments in her native France to acting on Broadway; from singing Sondheim alongside Bernadette Peters to sharing her story in a TEDx talk; from braving the notoriously tough audiences at New York’s Apollo Theatre to being called a “rising star in the galaxy of Jazz singers” by The New York Times.
It was the idea and unlimited potential of improvisation that set Cyrille Aimée on her course, and the desire to pursue that in-the-moment creation inevitably led her to Jazz. She spent her teen years performing in the cafés and clubs of Paris, then attended the American School of Modern Music there. She garnered her first taste of fame – or, perhaps more accurately, notoriety – when she was selected as one of 16 semi-finalists for Star Academy, the French equivalent of “American Idol.” When she realized how restrictive the show’s contract would be, however, she opted to walk away, igniting a scandal in the French media.
Aimée escaped the spotlight but was soon drawn to the U.S., where she attended SUNY Purchase on scholarship – in large part due to its proximity to the Jazz hub of Manhattan. She honed her skills through weekly gigs at a Soho restaurant and at Birdland Jazz Club. She also became a regular at Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village.
At the same time, no less an authority than Stephen Sondheim recognized that Cyrille Aimée’s captivating gift for storytelling through song would translate to the theatrical stage. The musical theater icon hand-picked her to star alongside the legendary Bernadette Peters in an Encores Special Presentation tribute to Sondheim at New York’s City Center in November 2013, backed by Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. One thing led to another, and the stage was set for A Sondheim Adventure, and a full immersion into the Sondheim canon.
“Astonishingly creative….with a brilliant sound, fresh ideas, impeccable rhythm and an overall approach that honors tradition without being shackled to the past.” — Wall Street Journal