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Jazz Singer Cécile McLorin Savant Doesn’t Want To Sound ‘Clean And Pretty’

On becoming a jazz singer after years of training to sing classical music:

“I did everything I could to not bring in any of the technical things I got from classical into jazz, and I did everything to really base it on my speaking voice and to just not try to make it sound pretty. … I always wanted to have kind of a certain natural quality to my voice, and I wish it were more rough than it is, but I would listen to a lot of blues singers and sort of try to go more towards that. …

I had a hole in my voice. I still do. We call it a hole, but it’s an area in the voice where it’s air. … And my classical teachers were just so frustrated with me because I would have these deep, low notes that were really strong and the higher register was strong, but right in the middle area, it was really hard. There was like a passage… But I realized that in jazz I could take advantage of that.” 

Photo: Mark Fitton/ShoreFire