Multi-award-winning instrumentalist/vocalist/bandleader Cynthia Sayer is acclaimed by musicians, critics, and fans alike as one of 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 the first 4-string banjoist to be on the cover of International Musician Magazine (Jan 2021), Cynthia is the first jazz banjoist winner of the 2019 Bistro Award and 2018 Global Music Awards. She garnered cheering crowds and her usual standing ovation at the iconic 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, where she was also the first 4-string banjoist in their history to appear as a featured artist. Other USA festivals include appearing as a Special Guest at the 2019 Django Reinhardt Festival in NYC, headlining at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage festival, the 2017 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, and numerous others. Sayer has been honored by multiple international festivals 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, 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, John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Vince Giordano, Scott Robinson, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, 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. At home, venues she has performed at include New York City's Lincoln Center, Birdland, Joe's Pub at The Public, and City Winery NY. She recently played with Lincoln Center's renowned Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for their run of Porgy and Bess, conducted by David Robertson.
Her feature CD's, nine in all, have received rave reviews and multiple "Best of" nominations, awards and honors 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 has been performing educational concerts for Jazz At Lincoln Center since 2019, and teaches privately. She was filmed for PBS TV's “Give Me The Banjo” and a national educational project co-sponsored by The Smithsonian Institution. Cynthia 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. Her new book for banjo, guitar andmandolin The Swinging Solos Of Elmer Snowden was published in 2022.
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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