Cécile McLorin Salvant wins 2020 MacArthur “Genius” grant

“I see this as a confirmation: You have potential, we see something in you.”

Cécile McLorin Salvant has been named one of the recipients of this year’s MacArthur Fellowship, the award informally known as the foundation’s “Genius” grant.

As a MacArthur Fellow, Salvant will receive an annual sum of $125,000 for five years. She joins 20 other recipients this year, including speculative fiction writer NK Jemisin, poet Fred Moten, sociologist and scholar Tressie McMillan Cottom and more. See the full list here.

Other jazz musicians who have been named MacArthur Fellows in the past such as Mary Halvorson, who won last year, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran and Reginald Robinson, to name a few.

Salvant didn’t believe she won the grant at first, she told the Chicago Tribune: “When they called me, I told them: You made a mistake. Because it’s me. I know people who have won this. I’m fans of people who have won this. I idolize people who have won this.”

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She added, “I don’t see this as a celebration of a career. I see this as a confirmation: You have potential, we see something in you.”

Salvant most recently sang on the album Artemis, released in September by the all-female group of the same name. She also sang on Love Letter, the final album by the late saxophonist Jimmy Heath. Her last solo record was 2018’s The Window.

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