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When she was a little girl, vocalist Cyrille Aimée used to sneak out of her bedroom window to mingle with the visitors to the annual Django Reinhardt Festival. With a heart full of gypsy music, her one and only goal was to become a singer. Years later, she has just released her fifth album, from which we’ll hear a song or two at this year’s North Sea Jazz Festival.

“Before moving to the United States, I was raised in a little French village called Samois-sur-Seine. It’s where Django Reinhardt used to live. The village hosts the annual Django Reinhardt festival, and gypsies from all across Europe come to honor him. As a little girl, I would sneak out of my bedroom window to mingle with the gypsies attending the festival. I became friends with the gypsies. They fascinated me.”

“At first, it was not the music that interested me. I didn’t even care about the music; I was just fascinated with their way of life, their culture, and the way they spoke. Little by little, I started to understand their music more, because I understood the people. It was the first moment I decided I wanted to sing. That’s how I got into music.”

“When I was young there was always music playing in the house: Classical, Country, French Chansons, Dominican Salsa and Merengue...all sorts. My father is French, my mother Dominican. They loved music and dancing.”

“At some point, I left France and traveled across Europe. The more I met other musicians my age, and created music with them, the more I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Music became more and more serious for me when I started living in the Dominican Republic. I was playing gigs every night and teaching music. From there, I moved to New York City to study Jazz. I didn’t have any musical dreams for the future back then. My only goal was to sing. ”

“I didn’t have any musical dreams for the future back then. My only goal was to sing.”

“I got the opportunity to develop my talent every time I had the chance to play. When I met the gypsies, I started singing along with them. When I went to the Dominican Republic, I sang there all the time. And in New York, I went to jam sessions and jazz clubs. I just took the opportunity whenever I saw one.”

“When I look back to my very first performance, I remember being very very nervous. I was trembling like a leaf. I was fifteen, and it was at the Django Reinhardt festival in Samois-sur-Seine. There were 3000 people, so I was very scared. It made me want to do it again, until I wasn’t scared anymore.”

“Many people inspire my music. Of course it all started with Django Reinhardt. But also Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald and all Latin and Salsa styles were a huge influence from my childhood. When I came to America, it was artists like Miles Davis and Oscar Peterson who inspired me most. When people ask me to describe my music, I tell them I don’t like to describe my music. I just like to play it. I prefer to let others decide what they want to call it.”

“Right now I am on tour, and it’s almost time for North Sea Jazz. I have been there once as a visitor. My thoughts on the festival? A lot of music and artists performing! A great vibe. I am excited to play on Congo Square because I remember seeing one of my favorite artists performing there: Jonathan Batiste.”

“At the beginning of this year, I released my newest album Let’s get lost. It’s hard to answer which song is my favorite: it really depends on the day and my mood. Right now I am really into Samois à Moi. We’re going to start working on a new album in New York soon. First we have to write all the material: we’re not there yet. That’s my future plan for now.”

Cyrille Aimee
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