Dr. Cynthia J. Felton serves as Artistic Director of The Ethnomusicology Library of American Heritage, a library that features a collection of sources that explores the study of music from a social and cultural aspect.
Currently based in Los Angeles, Cynthia is active as a performer and an educator. Her background prepared her well for both career areas. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, a Master of Arts degree from New York University in Jazz Performance, and a Doctorate in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California.
Her singing style embodies jazz, rhythm & blues, and gospel music -- a perfect fit for the broad stylistic range of compositions featured on this new recording.
For her debut recording, Afro Blue, Cynthia chose to pay tribute to Oscar Brown Jr., whose work she greatly admires. NEA Jazz Master, David Baker states, "Afro Blue is a wonderful first outing by Cynthia Felton, a singer who I believe will ultimately become a household name."
Felton's second release, Come Sunday, pays tribute to the legendary Duke Ellington. The cd features thirteen songs written either by Duke or by one of the many composers he collaborated with. In addition to Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life and Take The A Train, the cd also features other jazz classics such as Caravan and Perdido which were both written by trombonist Juan Tizol.
On Freedom Jazz Dance, her third CD, Felton demonstrates expertise in spirituals, ballads, and jazz standards. As a vocalist, she is unique because she selected, arranged, and performed on the twelve selections that encompass the CD. All require deep knowledge of both the genre and tradition to produce an artistic and culturally correct performance. In addition to her stylistic interpretations, ability to re-shape and re-compose diverse musical compositions, and spontaneous use of vocal concepts and techniques, Felton's musicality includes mood, feel, and sensitivity to all African-American musical genres, especially jazz. Overall, on this CD, Felton displays her skills as both arranger and performer.
In addition to being a showcase of her own prodigious talents, all of Cynthia's cds create settings in which all the outstanding musicians shine as superlative and sensitive accompanists, and many also contribute wonderfully effective and imaginative solos. Some of the musicians include Cyrus Chestnut, Robert Hurst, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Ernie Watts, Patrice Rushen, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Wallace Roney, to name a few.