The Center for the Arts, University at Buffalo, presents Cyrille Aimée as part of its "New Voices Series" at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5.
Winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival's International Vocal Competition and the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, vocalist Aimée is, in the words of Will Friedwald of The Wall Street Journal, "one of the most promising jazz singers of her generation."
Aimée was born in Fontainebleau, France. Her introduction to jazz was the result of the fortuitous location of her upbringing, the village Samois-sur-Seine - the same place where the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt once lived. For decades, gypsies from throughout Europe have descended upon Samois every June, setting up caravans in nearby meadows for the annual Django Reinhardt Festival. Many years ago, a young, curious Aimée wandered (unbeknownst to her parents) into the encampments and fell in love with the gypsies' music and way of life.
As a teenager, Aimée performed in various Parisian cafés and clubs. When her family moved to Singapore, she remained in Paris to attend the American School of Modern Music. She also auditioned for "Star Academy," the French version of "American Idol." Selected to be one of 16 semifinalists, Aimée had second thoughts when she was handed a contract that tied her up every which way for 10 years - including what she would sing. This was too much for her gypsy and jazz spirit to accept, so she quit.
Desperate to hear and learn from other jazz musicians, she opted to attend SUNY Purchase. Aimée discovered Manhattan as a sophomore - and a further flowering of influences. In 2006, Aimée organized a backpacking tour of Europe where she and her musician friends played and sang on street corners across the continent. In 2007, the group targeted jazz festivals where members played for food and lodging.
Aimée left the Perugia Jazz Festival for Switzerland where she participated in and won the Montreux International Voice Competition. The prize included the financing of a full-length recording. In 2008, Aimée and her friends returned to Switzerland to record her first CD, "Cyrille Aimée & The Surreal Band."
In recent years, Aimée has toured in many different contexts and has created several self-produced recordings, including with Brazilian guitarist Diego Figueiredo, with whom she has extensively toured in a duo setting. She won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2012, the same year she released her fifth self-produced CD, "Live at Birdland." Aimée's first major label release, "It's a Good Day," was released in August.
Tickets are available at the Center for the Arts Box Office (weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and tickets.com. To charge tickets, call 1-888-223-6000. For more information, call 716-645-2787 or visit www.ubcfa.org or http://www.cyrillemusic.com.