I just became obsessed with looking for new singers, unknown singers, people that maybe have been forgotten, and really checking them out and analyzing what they do - and obsessive listening. I think that's the core of my work on music - has been just listening to things and listening to singers.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I never wanted to sound clean and 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.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

It takes me a lot of time, and it's almost frustrating for the guys sometimes because they're waiting for a new song. And I - it's just so important for me to get the perfect, exact, right song.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I had a hole in my voice. It's an area in the voice where it's air. It's just - there's no - it's just very airy. 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 that middle area, it was really hard. It was like a passage. And many singers go through this and work it out. But I realized in jazz, I could just take advantage of that and take advantage of having a voice that was very different in different areas.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Classical singing - everything had to be homogenous, and it had to just feel like one continuous flow from top to bottom, bottom to top. And in jazz, I felt like, oh, well, I can sing these deep, husky lows if I want and then sing these really, like, tiny, laser highs if I want, as well. And I have - I have no obligation to make it sound like it's just one continuous flow.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I remember as a child I just would copy everyone else's handwriting, and now I have sort of a version of my sister's handwriting. And I feel like - sometimes I feel that way for my voice.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I think I'm fascinated with history and - just in general. And I'm always interested in how did - how did this come to be? Why is this the way it is? And even singing classical voice, I quickly became more and more interested with early music, baroque voice. And that became an obsession to me - just figuring out how - who are the ancestors of whatever it is.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I did everything I could to not bring in any of the - 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.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I remember in school - in elementary school - I used to recite poems. We'd have to recite poems. And I would always just, like, roll on the floor, like, just make it such a huge, melodramatic portrayal of whatever it was.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I don't like being the focus of attention. It makes me very uncomfortable. And it's part of the reason I never look at videos of myself, or I very rarely listen to my music or even read things that I might've said.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Just reading that - just reading that a person can be black and still perform in blackface, making fun of black people for a living, and at the same time be a genius and be an incredible entertainer and at the same time be extremely conflicted and feel like - just feel terrible for doing that, essentially, which is what Bert Williams felt, from what I gather, from what I read - all of that just made - was so incredible to me.

Cecile McLorin Salvant

I think when black performers performed in blackface, they were kind of taking back slave songs, but it was still a little bit iffy because they were performing, a lot of times, for white audiences who found it hilarious.

Cecile McLorin Salvant