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.
Felton’s new 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.
Cynthia produced and arranged all of the music on this CD and created settings which not only provide a showcase for her own prodigious talents, but also those of the outstanding musicians with whom she chose to surround herself. All of the instrumentalists on this recording 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.
The title track, “Come Sunday” may be Cynthia’s most favorite Ellington composition. Here she explores her religious roots backed by Chestnut on piano, Hurst on bass and “Tain” Watts on drums. Every performer has memories of and associations with the songs they choose to perform. “Lyrically, the title song speaks of deliverance, it speaks of optimism,” says Cynthia who equates Sundays with fellowship and family dinners. Come Sunday is filled with musical treasures displaying refreshing renditions of Duke Ellington’s compositions.