SUNY Purchase Alum Cyrille Aimée ’09 Earns Top Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition (SASSY) Award

Congratulations to SUNY Purchase alum Cyrille Aimée ’09, a jazz singer internationally praised for her vocal stylings, on finishing first in the finals of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition on Sunday in a live competition at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Aimée rose to the top through 900 submissions and the October 21 live event featuring five finalists. Her renditions of “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Sometimes I’m Happy,” and “I’m Through with Love” impressed the panel of judges, which including renowned jazz singers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jon Hendricks, and Melissa Walker, among others, earning her the top SASSY Award (named after Vaughan’s nickname) of $5,000.

The French singer was born in the village of Samois-sur-Seine, also the the birthplace of legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. During the village’s annual jazz festival honoring him, Aimée found herself singing around a fire with Reinhardt’s grandsons. She performed at the festival in 2000, a transformative moment setting her on a path that eventually led to Purchase. She graduated summa cum laude in 2009 and still refers to her time here as an “exceptional experience.”

Aimée mastered the art of improvisation while studying jazz here and was a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition of 2010, performing in front of a jury of Al Jarreau, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, and Dee Dee Bridgewater. In 2007, Cyrille won both the first and public prize in the Montreux Jazz Festival Competition.

Her latest record Cyrille Aimée & friends Live at Smalls features Roy Hargrove and Joel Frahm and is released under the label SmallsLIVE.

The Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition to discover “the next great jazz singer” was sponsored by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), WBGO and JAZZ ROOTS in conjunction with Indaba Music and pays tribute to Sarah Vaughan, one of the most renowned jazz vocalists of all time.

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