By Black Men In America.com Staff – (February 28, 2015)
She’s not Billie, not Judy, not Jennifer, not Carmen, not Nancy, it’s Cynthia Holiday!
Cynthia Holiday is a real crowd please and her renditions of straight-ahead jazz, blues and pop standards are full of swing, improvisation and soul. Clearly, singing live before an audience is where she feels most comfortable. Kevin Mahogany says, “I met Cynthia many years ago when I used to frequent various jam sessions in Harlem clubs. I was struck by her ability to quickly command the stage. Cynthia has fantastic stage presence and it’s time for her music to be heard.”
Cynthia says “I love the up-and-close feeling of performing in small, intimate venues like SMOKE or Showmans Jazz Club in NYC. I also enjoy the thrill of performing for an audience of 10,000 + people at outdoor events like the Harlem Jazz & Blues Festival or Hartford Jazz Festival.” Following her performance, the Hartford Courier’s music review said of Cynthia “She may have been unfamiliar to the audience, but Holiday quickly won over the crowd with her blues-soaked swing and charming banter.”
Since the 2008 release of her debut album, All The Way, on the Miles High Records Label, Cynthia Holiday has made new fans and friends in the US and internationally. Most recently she served as a judge in the 2013 Asian Dreams Jazz Vocal Competition followed by a performance with the TS Monk Septet in Osaka, Japan. Cynthia’s gifted vocals and natural inclination for jazz is attributed to her upbringing in Newark, New Jersey where music filled her home on any given day. Her stepfather, trumpeter Calvin Hughes was a band leader and performed with such jazz greats as Count Basie, Frank Foster, Clark Terry, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Big Maybelle.
Early on Cynthia was a dancer, studying for years with the Garden State Ballet Company and teaching dance during college years. But singing was her true love and she began studying classical voice with Jacklyn Snyder in New York City. Eventually Cynthia switched to the jazz vocal program at the Newark School For the Arts with Inez McClendon, followed by private lessons with Duke Anderson, Myrna Lake, Ulysses Slaughter, Jim Carson and the late Rita DaCosta Turrentine. She considers the late bassist Earl May to be an important mentor as she began sitting-in at jam sessions.
Released in 2008, Cynthia’s debut CD “All The Way” was produced by John Snyder and Eulis Cathey with guest artists pianist Cedar Walton, bassist David Williams and drummer Joe Farnsworth for Miles High Records. The core band included pianist Radam Schwartz, bassist Andy McCloud, drummer Joe Brown Jr, alto saxophonist Gerald Hayes, guitarist Geary Moore and drummer, Wayne Henderson.
“All The Way” spotlights Cynthia giving her own personal touch to standards, blues and introducing some originals. In fact, she co-wrote two of the tunes with Radam Schwartz, “I Like What I See” and “You’ve Got A Job To Do.” When asked to pick out a few favorite selections for the CD, Cynthia says, “My Little Rainbow” is a lovely tune recorded with the Cedar Walton trio and “Samba de Amore” is a light samba.
“Her time has come with this release,” says WBGO Jazz88 FM host Sheila Anderson. “Cynthia seeks to continue the tradition of jazz women who sing the blues, a style that has become a lost art among vocalists. I hear the humor of Helen Humes, the soul of Ernestine Anderson, the warm timber of Nancy Wilson and the storytelling of Marlena Shaw, but make no mistake, what you hear is pure Cynthia Holiday.”