Cynthia Sayer

  • Cynthia Sayer
  • Instruments: Guitar

  • Biography:

    Multi-award-winning instrumentalist/vocalist/bandleader Cynthia Sayer is acclaimed by musicians, critics, and fans alike as the top 4-string banjoist in the world today. Praised for her “drive and virtuosity” by the New York Times, Cynthia enchants audiences with her electrifying, swing-based performances and captivating stage presence wherever she appears. 

    An inductee into the American Banjo Hall Of Fame and winner of the 2019 Bistro Award* & 2018 Global Music Awards,* Cynthia garnered cheering crowds and her usual standing ovation at the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival.* (*first 4-string banjoist ever to win/appear) Other recent USA festival appearances include headlining at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival, the 2017 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, and numerous others. Multiple international jazz festivals have honored Cynthia as "Festival Favorite" and readers polls have named her “Favorite Living Banjo Player,” “First-Choice Headliner,” and “Best Banjo Player.” Cynthia has appeared as a guest and performer on CBS, FOX & ABC network television shows, including Good Morning America and The Morning Show, as well as on NPR's Piano Jazz, Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour, BBC Radio, and elsewhere. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, DownBeat, Fretboard Journal, International Musician, People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other local, trade, and foreign media outlets.  

    Sayer first rose to international prominence as a founding member of Woody Allen's New Orleans Jazz Band, all the while exploring her wider musical interests and playing with such legendary jazz, popular, and roots music artists as Bucky Pizzarelli, Dick Hyman, Andy Statman, Les Paul, Marvin Hamlisch, Wynton Marsalis, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, Charlie Giordano (with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), and John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), as well as leading jazz contemporaries such as Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon, Scott Robinson, and many others.  

    A multi-instrumentalist heard on distinguished feature film and TV soundtracks and comfortable in many genres, Cynthia’s fun, family-friendly programs present the unexpected musical diversity of the banjo in the hands of a master.  She tours extensively with her bands and as a guest artist across four continents, including her recent smash hit tour in China. At home, she performs at venues like New York City's Lincoln Center, Jazz At Lincoln Center, Birdland (see 2018 rave review here), and Joe's Pub at The Public, and produced of the annual "Hot Strings Festival" at City Winery NY. 

    Her feature CD's, nine in all, have received rave reviews and multiple "Best of" nominations and awards in various categories, including two Jazz Journalists Association best pick lists. Sayer has played for two U.S. Presidents (once at The White House), performed with several symphony orchestras including The New York Philharmonic, was the official banjoist for The New York Yankees, and is proud to be the subject of a Trivial Pursuit game question.

    Sayer is also an avid educator, presenting clinics, programs, and lecture/demonstrations at schools, colleges, and cultural organizations. She was filmed for a national educational project co-sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution and has contributed articles to several American and British trade publications. Her play-along program, “You're IN The Band,” is popular with players of all instruments learning and practicing traditional/hot jazz and swing.

    Cynthia lives in New York City and endorses Ome Banjos, GHS Strings, Blue Chip Picks, and The Realist Banjo Pickups by David Gage.

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