TODAY   |  January 24, 2014

Singer Cecile Salvant being called new face of jazz

TODAY correspondent Jenna Bush Hager sat down with the 24-year-old jazz musician, who said “it’s very humbling” being compared to greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. Her first album is nominated for a Grammy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> 8:44. the grammy awards are this weekend. and "today" contributing correspondent jenna bush hager caught up with one nominee whose voice is being compared to ella fitzgerald and billie holiday .

>> no pressure at all. you may not know her name yet, but you soon will. she is being called the new face of jazz. i recently met up with her before a performance at the school here in new york city . i'm jumping on rainbows

>> reporter: a powerful voice echoing another era. somebody said, you're not going to believe her voice. it doesn't sound like it comes out of a 24-year-old woman.

>> people think i sound older, like i'm 40 or 50, you know. and that's great. i love that.

>> reporter: a jazz singer , she's only 24 years old and already making a name for herself. so the "new york times" wrote that if anyone can extend the lineage of the big three, billie holliday , ella fitzgerald , it would be you. does that give you anxiety?

>> yeah. it's an honor, very humbling to hear that. to me, they're genius singers and i only aspire to even touch the bottom of their greatness.

>> growing up in miami to a haitian father and french mother, music has always been part of her life.

>> i remember from a very young age dancing around in the room with my sister and singing along to songs with my parents --

>> what's one of your favorite jazz songs?

>> sarah vonn singing "misty." like a lullaby for me, a childhood lullaby.

>> so you'll sing some of it?

>> okay. look at me i'm as helpless as a kitten up a tree

>> amazing. it gave me chills. the whole day through

>> reporter: but it wasn't until six years ago, that she decided to pursue jazz as a career.

>> i just love singing so much, and i love this music so much that to me it seemed like, you know, at least i'll try this and see where it takes me and so far it's been great.

>> it took you to the grammy 's.

>> her first album "woman child" is nominated for a grammy .

>> i freaked out and screamed and immediately called my parents in miami. we're like, okay, we're going to go to -- what are we going to wear?

>> while her talent speaks for itself, she says she has a long way to go.

>> when in your career did you think, okay, i've got this.

>> i don't think i got this. i still think that i have a long way to go to get to where i really want to be.

>> and she says -- isn't she amazing? she says she owes all of her success to her parents' support. and on sunday, of course, they will be her date at the grammy 's.

>> great. terrific, heavenly voice.

>> good of you to introduce us to her.