“Most people sense that all is not well in the world we live in. And I’ve put these concerns to music …My goal at this time is to lift the world with my music.” " Cynthia Scott
For three decades, the vocal artistry of the multi-talented Arkansas-born vocalist Cynthia Scott has encompassed the swing of jazz, the soul of R&B, and the sacred stirrings of gospel music. She is loved by audiences from New York to Africa, Europe and Asia; by musicians from Wynton Marsalis to Ray Charles " who discovered her " and by jazz critics like the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich, who called her “a mesmerizing vocalist.”
The release of Dream for One Bright World " her fifth as a leader " is an incredible, eleven-track recording featuring some of New York’s finest musicians including, pianist/keyboardist John diMartino, multi-reedist Bill Easley, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, drummer Yoron Israel, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffrey, trumpeter Etienne Charles, trombonist Andrae Murchinson, and percussionist Jeff Haynes. The legendary pianist/arranger Norman Simmons assisted with this production and said, “I don't recall ever experiencing a program so powerful ...” The CD features Scott’s cool and colorful contralto singing about many issues of the world today: homelessness, Alzheimer’s disease, hope, and love " along with a shout-out to her old boss, Ray Charles. “I learned from Ray to tell the story and do it your way, with all your roots included,” Scott says.
Cynthia Scott’s roots, the source of her inspiring drive and artistry, are firmly planted in African-American culture. She was born and raised in El Dorado, Arkansas, the tenth of twelve children, whose parents were married for seventy years. Her father was a preacher. She started singing at the age of four, and was exposed to a wide variety of music. “I couldn’t listen to anything but gospel music in our home, but I could sneak over to my sister’s house. She had a different set of rules,” says Scott. “Many family members were musicians: sisters played piano, brothers played guitar and one played piano. They all still do... mom and dad played a little also.”
She grew up soaking in a myriad of influences. “I loved Carmen McCrae; I heard her story when she sang. Roberta Flack … I could sing her Chapter Two album straight through, note per note. Aretha Franklin always amazed me by the way you could really feel her. And then later there was Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday … talk about emotions on your sleeve.” When Scott moved to Dallas after she graduated from high school in Arkansas, those influences formed into one soaring and syncopated voice that was all hers. While working as an airline stewardess, she honed her craft with some of the best musicians in Dallas: James Clay, Claude Johnson, Roger Boykin, Onzy Matthews, Marchell Ivory, and Red Garland. And then, she got her big break. “I received a call around five AM in the morning from Ray Charles back in 1972,” says Scott, “totally unexpected and shocked at the same time: Ray Charles, calling a girl from Arkansas.” She became a Raelette" one of the select women chosen to be Charles’ back-up singer. Scott worked with the Genius for two years, which included a European tour with Oscar Peterson with Joe Pass and The Count Basie Orchestra with Joe Williams. “I felt like I knew Ray's spirit because when you work with someone as closely as I did with Ray, you learn so much,” says Scott.” He was a great teacher to so many and his music will live on.” After Charles’ death, Scott would go on to work with many of his star sidemen including Hank Crawford, Marcus Belgrave, Leroy Cooper and David “Fathead” Newman.