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Washington, Washington DC, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE | AFM

Washington, Washington DC, United States | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo R&B Jazz




"The Best New Soul on Bandcamp"

In hearing Cecily, you hear the icons that came before her. The vocalist’s lovely soprano, rich in clarity and sensuality, draws a direct line to singers like Deniece Williams and Minnie Riperton. Cecily’s music is stirringly timeless and modern, and her debut LP—Songs of Love and Freedom—is a deeply personal journey on which the Washington, D.C. singer-songwriter uses gentle folk and jazz to honor soul music’s luminaries (see Cecily’s renditions of Riperton’s “Can You Feel What I’m Saying” as “Can You Feel It?,” and Gil-Scott Heron’s “Song For Bobby Smith”). On these and other songs, Cecily never fails to enchant. Even during moments when lyrics are sparse, the emotive quality Cecily brings to a single phrase, such as her thrilling singing of “just to be alive” on “Don’t Hide the Sun,” fills it with a unique nuance that makes each track special. In the end, Freedom is a beautiful, self-reflecting album that emanates deep spirituality. - Bandcamp Daily

"SoulBounce Exclusive: Dive Into Cecily’s ‘Pisces’"

DMV-based singer/songwriter Cecily possesses an enviable soprano and a sharp pen. She puts both to good use on her new single "Pisces," co-written by Diggs Duke and produced by Jason "Brother Spanky" Edwards and John Daise of the group Columbia Nights. All of this talent comes together to create a beautiful piece of music that pulls from the past but looks toward the future.

Although it's currently Pisces season and her birthday was a few days ago, Cecily's song isn't an ode to the zodiac sign or her special day. Instead, "Pisces" details her personal journey to finding inner-strength and self-acceptance inspired by a trip to Ghana last year. While there, she had a spiritual awakening as she swam under a waterfall. "It was late summer. I felt smooth stones on the soles of my feet and a cool mist on my skin. I slid my toes into the fresh water of Wli Falls and swam towards the raging cascade," Cecily shared with us about her inspiration behind the song. "Six months later I wrote 'Pisces' about my spiritual connection to water.”

That spiritual connection is felt in "Pisces." The song begins with the sound of waves crashing onto a shore as the instruments fade in. Atop a soothing sound bed of percussion, flute, bass, guitar and violin, Cecily's voice washes over the listener like a cool breeze. She flaunts her range on "Pisces" with a honeyed soprano reminiscent of the great Minnie Riperton. Cecily has a vocal style all her own, however, and continues to draw you in with her positive, introspective lyrics. "There’s a river in me / And it pushes my feet / In uncertain forward motion / There's an ocean in me / And it won't let me sink / But it's drawing me out / Wash away my self-doubt," she confidently sings.

Dive into SoulBounce's exclusive world premiere of Cecily's "Pisces" right now before it's official release date tomorrow, Friday, March 9th. The song is currently available for purchase on Bandcamp. Keep it locked on SoulBounce for more details on Cecily's upcoming album, Songs of Love & Freedom, which will be released on Friday, May 4th. Continue to get caught up in the rapture of Cecily by following her on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. - Kim Hines

"First Listen: Cecily says "Don't Hide From The Sun""

(May 7, 2018)
We all have those moments when we get in our feelings. You get kind of overwhelmed about the cares of the world. You start to doubt yourself. You feel isolated because you’re alone in an unfamiliar place. And then you step into nature, and you gain an appreciation for things such as being alive and being able to feel the warm sun on your face, or the grass between your toes. That’s what “Don’t Hide From the Sun,” the latest song from vocalist and songwriter Cecily is about.

"’Don't Hide the Sun’" is based on a poem I wrote while sitting in a park in London. I'd been traveling by myself for 2 weeks, and it was my final day there. I had been feeling very lonely the whole trip, but in that moment I just felt grateful to be where I was, sitting in the sun, all by myself. I truly appreciated my solitude and just felt so thankful to have that time to myself on a unexpectedly sunny London day. Musically the song is a collaboration between myself and Aaron Abernathy, a fellow DC-based soul artist, who is like a brother to me. I was very honored to work with him on this project.”

The track itself has a laid back mid-tempo feel of the kind of jazzy soul you might have heard from Roy Ayers or Minnie Riperton back in the day, and that’s not a surprise. Cecily said that she’s been deeply influenced by the bands and artists from that era – most notably the Isley Brothers, Gil-Scot Heron and Norman Connors – and she’s also opened for the likes of Gregory Porter. “Don’t Hide From the Sun,” finds this D.C. native putting what she’s learned to work, and gets us excited to hear more from her. Check it out below.

By Howard Dukes - Soul Traks

"Cecily: Homegrown Songstress Fueled by ‘Old Skool Soul’"

Children who find themselves forced to listen to the music favored by their parents often take the first opportunity to run as fast as possible toward the sounds of singers more popular with their own peers.

But for one D.C. native, the soulful sounds and family favorites she recalls hearing during her childhood, from Smokey Robinson and Phyllis Hyman to Miles Davis and Anita Baker, would become the foundation upon which she has since embraced, channeling their unique style into her own lyrics and music.

And if you want proof, you should check out Cecily, described by the legendary Patti Austin as a “brilliant, beautiful and talented young lady” — a singer for whom Austin advises the world to “look out,” who’s preparing to take center stage for two album release concerts on May 9 and 23 during which she’ll perform her own mix of soul, jazz and R&B on May 9 in the Mansion at Strathmore.

Cecily, one of a select group of talented musicians chosen to participate in the Strathmore Artist in Residence Program, created in 2005 to support the transition from amateur performance to career artists, says she thought politics would be central to her career path, even majoring in political science during undergraduate studies, until she accepted the fact that music had long been her true passion.

“I began taking voice lessons when I was 12 because I’d always love singing but it didn’t become the focus of my career path until I’d been in college for a few years,” she said.

“One day I just called my mother and told her how I felt. She said she wasn’t surprised and that she supported my decision. I returned home after graduation anxious to embark on my career, quickly realizing that I’d have to learn a lot about the music business if I wanted to really succeed,” said Cecily who says embracing music not as a hobby but as her calling has been one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

Cecily, a recent bride and one who enjoys cooking for her family in their Takoma Park home, has opened for entertainers that include Grammy-winning jazz stylist Gregory Porter, soul pioneer Bilal and R&B stars like Johnny Gill, Kenny Lattimore and Elle Varner. She’s also opened for other stellar artists at local hotspots including Blues Alley, The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton, The Howard Theatre and Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

Now, on the heels of her just-released debut CD, “Songs of Love and Freedom,” a collaborative project with D.C.-based producer and musicians Aaron “Ab” Abernathy, Diggs Duke, Drew Kid and Columbia Nights members Jason “Brother Spanky” Edwards and John Daise, Cecily says she excited about what her future holds.

“I wrote all of the lyrics for my CD, covered one of my all-time favorites, Gil Scott-Heron and co-wrote and collaborated on the majority of the melodies and instrumentalization,” said Cecily, who cites Scott-Heron, Terry Collier and Minnie Riperton among her most admired artists.

“I feel like I’m on the brink of finally being able to support myself as a full-time musician, but that’s only been because of the longtime support of my family and being chosen for this superb Strathmore-supported program in which I’ve learned how to stay focused, been exposed to some tremendous mentors and been welcomed into a community of artists who believe in me and what I want to do. I just hope that those who come to my concert are inspired by my music and leave feeling more confident in the power of love.” - The Washington Informer

"Cecily: Songs Of Love And Freedom Reviewed by Barry Towler"

Cecily is a brand new name to me, but it transpires that this is her second outing. Man, am I going to be checking that first album out!!! This album is a straight up quality, No Risk Disc and anyone who attends this website should not be quibbling, and should be ordering this on CD (yes, a physical CD!) immediately. I discovered this amazing set via Amazon Streaming, and as soon as I can I will be ordering the physical product. So enamoured by it I was immediately informing Richard Searling and Ralph Tee at Expansion about this (and another set which I will review soon!) as it is screaming for a mainstream CD release.

CD Baby describes her set as "an exploration of self-love and vulnerability told through 70s-inspired R&B, Soul and Jazz. Ethereal vocals, sweeping string lines, and warm Rhodes keyboards give the work its classic character." Amen to that! The album is what I would describe as the closest thing to a new Syreeta album, filled with warm 70s vibes, real instrumentation and lush production. Cecily's voice has the distinct timbre of Syreeta and the sensibilities of Minnie Riperton. The theme is about growth, struggle and beauty, truth, inspiration and love. It is beautifully delivered from the soul.

The opening song, Pisces commences with the lapping sea, warm vibes, flute and Cecily's angelic, pure and beautiful voice. This is of superior quality and I would buy the album on the strength of this track alone. Track 2, Your Kind Of Beautiful, soars and displays how effortless Cecily's vocal skills are. The warm rhodes on Song For Bobby Smith act as a gorgeous backdrop to he initial monologue.

My favourite song is Grow which has the most gorgeous swirling strings, early 80s Sheree Brown sentiments, the perfect accompaniment to this beautiful summer we have all been experiencing. Don't Hide The Sun has a superb 70s Patrice Rushen flavour and closes the album. This may only be a 10 tracker, but readers here will prefer quality over quantity and if your soul is lacking refreshment, then this is just what the Doctor ordered! - Soul Express

"SoulBounce Live: Cecily With Special Guest Kenny Wesley Live At Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club"

This past Monday night, DMV songstress Cecily warmed concertgoers up at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on the chilly winter's night during a live show that showcased the music of many artists born-and-raised in or connected to Washington, D.C. She was joined by special guest and fellow DMV resident Kenny Wesley, and together they covered a plethora of songs both well known and little known.

Cecily and Kenny paid musical homage to Marvin Gaye, Chuck Brown, Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack, Stacy Lattisaw and more during their individual solo performances and when they united on duets. Not only did the audience hear updated versions of classic tracks, but they were even treated to brand new music from Cecily. She sang original numbers "Pisces" and "Your Idea Of Beautiful," which will be found on her upcoming album to be released this year. Cecily ended the night with an upbeat rendition of Gil Scott-Heron's 1974 hit "The Bottle" that showed that she can pay an exciting tribute to the greats and is on her way to becoming one. - Kim Hines

"Native roots: 5 black musicians from The District"

Not just the home of government and politics, Washington D.C. has also had an influence on the culture and arts of our nation. As the birthplace of Go-Go, Marvin Gaye, and Duke Ellington, the district has never had a shortage of talent. That talent is still prevalent today. Covering genres from jazz, R&B, rock & soul, acoustic pop soul, and afro-beat, the D.C. music scene is as diverse as it gets. Below are five D.C. musicians who are making their mark.

1. Cecily
This captivating soprano describes her music as acoustic pop soul. She is heavily influenced by "mid-century soul and jazz, '90s R&B, and re-imagined folk music." Her debut self-titled EP was released in March of this year. - Blavity

"CATCH A RISING STAR: “New, Old Soul,” Singer Cecily Will Make You Feel the Love"

“Summer breeze makes me feel fine” … the line from the Seals & Croft’s song sprang to mind as I sat at a tiny table table near the stage at Blues Alley listening to singer Cecily’s preview of her upcoming EP “Grow” at a recent show.

With a neo-soul and R&B sound rooted in jazz that would have received a warm reception among audiences at the jazz clubs that dotted U Street during DC’s “Black Broadway” era, the 27-year old singer and songwriter was completely at home on the legendary stage where icons like Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Phyllis Hyman, have performed.

Gifted with a sweet soprano that evokes favorable comparisons to the work of greats like Minnie Ripperton and Patti Austin, her voice invites you to close your eyes and drift away as it soars to gently caress high notes before drifting down to a honeyed lower register with the grace of a swooping falcon. She also manages to find new vocal appeal when covering time-honored classics.

A newlywed just shy of her 3-month anniversary, the DC native’s songs are infused with themes of love, hope, and self-acceptance. Asked what she wants her fans to experience from her music, Cecily comments, “I want people to find healing, to feel vulnerable, yet full. I want to inspire self-reflection.”

Despite her youth, Cecily is already a performance veteran, having opened for Grammy Award winning jazz and soul artist Gregory Porter, R&B stars Johnny Gill, Kenny Lattimore, and Elle Varner, and alternative soul pioneer Bilal. Locally, she has played at The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton and The Howard Theater.

Grow is an emotionally rich, subtly restrained suite of songs that merge elements of jazz and soul. “Your Idea of Beautiful” -- one of the songs that Cecily wrote or co-wrote for the EP -- is a particular stand-out, exuding an aura of dimmed lights and romantic introspection. She laughs, “ I want people to open up those heart chakras.”

But despite its paeans to romantic love and self-reflection, Grow includes the somewhat edgy “Hope,” a passionate plea for racial justice and dignity that Cecily debuted at Blues after working on it off and on for three years.

“It started when I read this quote from Ida B. Wells, "If it were possible, I would gather the race in my arms and fly away," she says. “That quote really moved me, and it has brilliant imagery that I knew would work well in a song. A few months later, I was listening to a TV interview of James Baldwin from the 1960's. The interviewer asked him whether he would tell his nieces and nephews that there was no hope for racial justice in this country. Baldwin replied that he would never tell them there is no hope.”

She continues, “These two sentiments counterbalanced each other for me. There's been so much incredible pain for Black folks in this country, and there still is. I'm sure there were so many times our ancestors wished to wrap us up and fly away. But they gave us their spirit and their dreams. They gave us hope.”

She cites her ties to DC as an undeniable influence on her music. She says, “As a R&B artist who also does jazz, it would literally be impossible NOT to be influenced by the sounds of DC. From Duke Ellington, to Marvin Gaye, to Roberta Flack, to Gil Scott-Heron, to Meshell N'degeocello, to even Raheem DaVaughn. They all lived, worked, and created in this city, and I've been moved by all of them. Also, growing up listening to GoGo I think may have played a part in me being so connected to live instrumentation. GoGo also reminds me of the power of music to make people feel free.”

In appreciation for their contributions, she will be staging the 3rd annual “Cecily Salutes DC” at the Atlas in November where she will honor the musicians who are an intrinsic part of the DNA of Chocolate City and who have impacted the world. She will perform her interpretations of songs by Marvin Gaye, Gil Scot-Heron, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others.

The singer plans to release a single and video later this summer and the full “Grow” EP is slated for October. It is a delightfully smooth “quiet storm” album. Curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and let Cecily take you on an emotional journey. - Paige Mueller

"MIX ROOM - R&B MIXTAPES Cecily – Cecily EP"

Cecily describes her sound as Minnie Riperton meets Teedra Moses, and we couldn't agree more. The Washington, DC-based singer-songwriter releases her self-titled debut EP, a blend of Old School, R&B, Folk, and Jazz that's welcoming to the ears.

Packed with five songs and a bonus track (A cover of Mary J. Blige's "Everything" by way of The Stylistics' "You Are Everything"), Cecily delivers a body of work that's soothing and nostalgic.

According to Cecily, this project was "inspired by the journey of love: Losing the person you thought was the one, feeling the excitement of a new crush, being afraid of vulnerability, taking a chance for something real, and hopefully, finding your one true love."

She explains: "I don’t write songs that put people down, or devalue people, or brag about all the things I have that you don’t have. That’s just not me. I want to lift people up, help them find self-love."

Well, here's to lifting you up Cecily, you are alright in our playlist. - DJ JusMusic


Every neighborhood boasts of a rising star and Southwest is no exception. Cecily Bumbray, 24, is a young vocalist and songwriter making her mark on the music world with an eclectic blend.

Bumbray started regular voice lessons at age 12 at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and from ages 13 to 18, she studied classical voice there as well. Further studies followed at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania from which she graduated in 2012. Bumbray wants to seamlessly fuse her genre, which is described as acoustic pop soul.

“It’s acoustic because I like to work with real musicians and real instrumentation, it’s pop because it has crossover appeal, and it’s soul because it gives you that warm, soulful feeling, like back in the day,” Bumbray says, describing her unique style.

Influenced by powerful vocalists and songwriters including Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, and Adele, Bumbray’s voice looms high, often creating a hushed silence from the audience followed by a round of steady applause. Her talents were heard live recently when she wowed thousands of Nats fans, and a few Phillies fans as well, by singing the National Anthem on July 31 during Southwest Neighborhood Night at Nationals Park.

With over a decade of study and performance, this young seasoned soprano has developed a secure foundation and now performs with confidence and ease.

One blogger at a recent performance said, “Cecily’s vocal range and stage presence were breathtaking and certainly left the audience wanting more.”

Grammy award-winning R&B, jazz, and pop singer Patti Austin notes that Bumbray is “a brilliant, beautiful, and talented young lady, look out!” Like Austin, Bumbray has already been recognized for her unique vocal ability and is proving to be a young vocalist of unlimited depth and dimension. It was her accomplishments, the blessings of her parents, and a growing fan base that inspired Bumbray to contemplate and pursue a career on stage.

After receiving her degree in Political Science and Black Studies, Cecily launched her professional career in 2012 with the release of her first single “Too Much,” which is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby. The song is a classically soulful piece about grappling with love and loss in front of an audience.

Bumbray is scheduled to release her first project, self-titled “Cecily,” in September, working with Grammy award-winning producer and arranger Benjamin Wright, famed songwriter and singer Vaneese Thomas, and DC rap legend Tabi Bonney. In popular demand, she is also performing regularly throughout the DC metropolitan area, Chicago, New York City, and other cities along the East coast to packed houses. What do her parents think of her interest in pursuing a singing career after acquiring degrees in a totally different area?

“We’re fine with her decision and we simply want her to be happy,” states George Bumbray, the singer’s father, with an acquiescing nod and smile from Sherry Bellamy, her mother and business manager who also happens to be a Swarthmore graduate.

Gone are the days when major label record executives held power as to whether an artist succeeded. It’s now the fans that dictate an artist’s success. Southwest residents and their network can join Bumbray’s fan base and be a part of “A star is Born.” Visit her website at cecilymusic.com and consider purchasing a ticket (or two) when she headlines SWNA’s benefit concert (date to be announced). - Thelma Jones


"This sweet woman is a singer and songwriter from here in the DC area. Her music is self described as “Acoustic Pop Soul” and she’s right. Not only does she sing wonderfully, but she’s got personality to boot." - Growth Group

"5th Annual RAWards DC Semi-Finalist: Meet Cecily"

Mz Mahogany Chic, media sponsor of the 2013 5th Annual DC RAWards, is giving you a taste of each semi-finalist. Cecily, competing for the ‘Musician of the Year’ title, tells us about her inspiration and sense of style when it comes to the entertainment industry!

What inspired you to start singing?

It was very simple. I liked the sound of my voice. I enjoyed listening to myself and the way the vibrations felt in my body. Once I realized that I liked it, I wanted to become better at it, so I began taking voice lessons at the age of 12.

How do you channel your sense of style through your songs?

My sense of style is usually classic and simple. I think you hear this in my music as well. It has a throwback feel, with pure vocals, and not too many extra sounds. I also tend to wear things that are more fun, colorful, and funky. Basically I like to mix it up. Same with my music. I have songs like “Too Much,” which I believe is striking in its simplicity, and I have songs like “Heaven In Your Eyes,” which makes you want to move and clap your hands. - Mz Mahogany Chic

"ASG’s Annual Abissa Cultural Showcase"

"A young, up and coming artist based in DC, Cecily, also graced the stage with her amazing vocals. This very talented young woman performed a song by an artist in Nigeria as well as one of her own works. Cecily’s vocal range and stage presence were breathtaking and certainly left the audience wanting more." - thefirethistimeGeorgetown's Online Multicultural Newsmagazine

"The Swarthmore Twitter 100"

Have you ever wondered who among Swarthmore alumni are on Twitter? Perhaps not surprisingly, the Twitter-verse is full of active, engaged alums representing a broad range of professions and interests.

This is far from a comprehensive list. But, with seven decades represented, it does offer a glimpse of who you might find should you want to start following Swarthmore alums.

Don't see yourself here, or know of someone who should be? Please tweet the Twitter handle to @Swarthmore.

Cecily Bumbray '12: @CecilyAlexa

Read about Bumbray's journey as a singer and songwriter, and the countdown to her new releases. - Swarthmore College/ http://www.swarthmore.edu/

"Exclusive Interview with Cecily & New Single "Too Much""

Miss KASH was recently given the opportunity to interview, rising star Cecily. Cecily is an up & coming R&B and Pop Soul singer who sings from the heart and touches the souls of her listeners. We are sharing with you, here in the Kash Stash, this phenomenal woman and to welcome her into your hearts, with her new single, "Too Much" Read below to read Miss Kash's exclusive interview with Cecily.
Name: Cecily Bumbray
Age: 22
Place of Birth: Washington, D.C.
Stage name: Cecily
Twitter Name: @CecilyAlexa & @Cecily_Music
When did you get your start singing?
I got my start in 2011. I’d been singing for almost 10 years at that point, doing everything from classical to gospel, but it was in 2011 that I got my first real experience recording in a studio & working with a great producer. I just graduated from college in May 2012 and that is when I began to pursue my singing career full-time.

How did you know you wanted to pursue a career in music and what is your genre?

I always loved to sing, and while in school all of my extracurricular activities were centered around music, but I had always planned on becoming a diplomat. It was in the summer of 2009 that I realized that music is my true calling. I went to a jazz festival with my parents, and while watching all the various performers working the stage it hit me that that is where I want to be, on stage, having an audience feel my music.

I define my genre as Acoustic Pop Soul. It’s acoustic because I like to work with real musicians and real instrumentation. It’s Pop because it has crossover appeal, and it’s Soul because it gives you that warm, soulful feeling like back in the day.

Who inspires you and keeps you going?

I am inspired by my audiences. I am inspired by people who come up and tell me that my voice touched their spirits, that they were moved in some way by my performance. I also love to sing! I love getting better at expressing myself vocally & the joy I get from improving – being able to hold a note longer or sing a phrase with better dynamics – keeps me going as well.

What other artists do you find similar to you or look up to?

I’ve always admired strong, innovative vocalists. When I was growing up I always looked up to Chaka Khan and Anita Baker in particular, because they really have their own unique style and they sing fearlessly.

The artists that I get a lot of inspiration from today and that I feel like my sound resembles are Adele, Jill Scott, and Emeli Sande. They are all strong vocalists and amazing songwriters. They all have an acoustic sound, which I connect with, and they are all unique individuals who have not let the industry push them to be someone who they are not.

Where do you usually get your topic that you rap/sing about?

I usually write about relationships. I occasionally write about politics and social issues, but lyrics about love are what come most naturally to me. What’s interesting is that, if I try to reflect & write on a personal situation, I usually get caught up in trying to make it an accurate account of what went down or how I am feeling, and that usually leads to writers block. So generally, I have to write about it as if it’s someone else’s experience to get the right lyrics on the page. But everything I write does relate to something I’ve dealt with in the past – needing to break free from a dead-end relationship, a long distance relationship, the butterflies you feel when you tell someone how you really feel about them, the feeling of having lost yourself when a relationship ends. Just things that most people have been through at one point or another.

What do you have that makes you stand out from all the rest?

I think was truly makes me stand out is my voice. I have a very pure tone and timbre that people are drawn to, which is a blessing. I’ve been studying voice for about 10 years, so technically I sing well, but I also am able to convey emotion with ease. I think the combination of my unique voice & my ability to make people feel the words of a song, make me special. And although I am humble, I know for certain that my gift is rare.
What do you do in your spare time?

I really like great TV shows! Being in school for 4 years getting my degree, I really had no time to watch TV. So the past few months I’ve been catching up on amazing shows like Homeland, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire.
What is your take on Hip Hop being dead?

Hip Hop is definitely not dead! I think there was a time, in the early 2000’s, when the major industry had too much control over which artists got heard and what content got promoted, but I think that technology has advanced to the point where artists have more control. There will be always be great Hip Hop artists who are truly lyrical and emotive, and thankfully more of them are getting heard now than they were 10 years ago.

Throughout your journey what is a lesson that you have learned?

I’ve learned to be patient and to fol - The Kash Stash- Loyalisme/ http://thekashstash.weebly.com

"Alums Get Soulful for Music Video Featuring Cecily Bumbray '12"

The entertainment industry is notorious for recycling the status quo and repackaging it for mass consumption. But for singer and songwriter Cecily Bumbray '12, the real achievement of following a dream is staying true to yourself and your vision.

"The entertainment industry is intimidating partly because people are always pushing you to sound, look and be like other people. For me, being a Swattie has helped me not to give into that pressure," Bumbray says. "Swarthmore really embraces the individuality of each person and I think that is something to which I'm dedicated to staying true."

One of Bumbray's most recent visions to become a reality is a music video for "Too Much," a soulful single she co-wrote with Anthony Montalbano '12. Vaneese Thomas '74, director of the College's Alumni Gospel Choir, arranged and produced the single. Tayarisha Poe '12 served as director.

According to Sherry Bellamy '74, Bumbray's mother, the single is "a love story that begins sweetly, ends sadly, and leaves you feeling at a loss for words." It is the first commercial release of indie label Harmonious Grits.

"My favorite part of developing and releasing a single is the very first step - the writing process. Being able to make music with someone and create something that expresses some truth is incredibly fulfilling," Bumbray says. "On this project, I was very blessed to work with people who are as attentive to detail as I am - Swatties!"

Poe says that working with fellow alumni made the direction and production of the video a unique experience. "There's already a base of a common language," she says, "so when you're trying to communicate a cinematic feeling and all you can do is wave your hands around and make a non-verbal noise, they will likely still get it."

Bumbray says the most compelling lyric of "Too Much" appears in the chorus: How do I write a song about love gone bad, when I can't even grasp what we had? "It really sums up the overarching theme and tone of the entire song," she says. "It's a question the singer is asking of herself, her former lover, and her audience. It signifies that the singer is in a state of confusion and is at a loss for answers and closure."

It's that state of reflection that Poe hoped to capture in the video. "Overall I wanted lots of light and a mix between clear and steady shots and close hand-held movements," she says. "I wanted to evoke a sense of reflection and longing for a time past." Read more about their creative process in The Phoenix.
- Swarthmore College/ http://www.swarthmore.edu/

"Black Female Vegetarian: Cecily Bumbray"


I have been vegetarian or vegan for about 8 years. I became a vegetarian when I was 14 years old. I had never eaten pork or red meat as a child, but I loved chicken and ate it very regularly. I occasionally ate seafood as well. I cannot remember what exactly sparked my desire to be vegetarian. I think it was a combination of things. First, my brother and sister, who are 10 and 12 years older than me respectively, had both been pescatarian or vegetarian for a few years, so the idea did not seem foreign or strange to me. At the time I had also been reading more about mercury in fish and contaminated chicken that was making people sick.

I have always been health conscious, since I can remember, so it seemed like a good idea. I told my mother I wanted to become vegetarian and she said, “Start today,” so I did.
- © 2012 Frugivore Magazine

"Youth Action’s “The A-List: Successfully Connected” Networking Event"

Following the first networking activity, there was a performance by singer, Cecily Brumbay, a student at Swarthmore College. She sang a cover of Like A Star by Corinne Bailey Rae and did an amazing job. Sometimes, when singers cover a song by another artist, they tend to imitate them too much. Cecily did a great job at making the song her own and letting everyone in attendance hear how talented she is. Later on in the evening she performed her new single, “Crazy for You.” - http://youthactionteam.org/

"Alums Collaborate on Music Video in LPAC"

Since graduation this May, Cecily Bumbray ’12 has energetically pursued a career as a singer-songwriter. And while she’s only been gone for a little more than three months, last Thursday Bumbray returned to Swarthmore—not to visit old friends and professors, reminisce, or casually revel in the vibrant late summer arboretum colors, but instead to film part of the music video for her first single, “Too Much,” on LPAC’s main stage.
Though her official major was in Political Science with a minor in Black Studies, Bumbray knew relatively early into her time at Swarthmore that she wanted to pursue a career in music. “The moment I decided that I wanted to be a singer and a performer instead of a diplomat was actually the summer after my freshman year at Swarthmore,” she says. “I went to Italy with my family to a music festival.… It was such an amazing week.… I was watching someone perform and I was just like, ‘You know, I want to do that.’ That moment is when I kind of got serious about it.” Over her four years here, Bumbray was involved in a range of musical groups on campus, including Mixed Company for one year, Essence of Soul for two, Swarthmore Chorus, and Gospel Choir. She also took private voice lessons once a week.
Bumbray likes to describe her sound as “acoustic pop soul,” and lists as three of her primary influences Anita Baker, Jill Scott, and Adele, who she credits with having “paved the way for the type of music that I love to do.”
Why this style in particular? “When I think of pop soul it’s basically just soul music that everyone can feel but that has a crossover appeal to it,” she explains, “I definitely try to stick with an acoustic sound because I think it fits my personality well, it fits my songwriting and it really shows off my voice.”
Although Bumbray admits to having little formal background in music theory or the more pragmatic aspects of making a career in music, she plans to begin classes in music theory and the music business this fall. Meanwhile, she’s busy working on her first EP, which she hopes to release in April 2013. “As I work up to that,” she says, “I’m going to do, maybe not my own live shows as often, but kind of do gigs where I can, definitely go to open mics, really have a grassroots approach in terms of networking and building a fan base in anticipation for my EP.”
The music video for “Too Much” was filmed and produced by Tayarisha Poe ’12, a friend of Bumbray’s from their time together at Swarthmore. According to Poe, “The idea behind the video itself is showing the progress of a relationship in a staggered format.”
Poe graduated last year with a special major in film and English. “Cecily liked my style, I guess, and she reached out to me, late this summer, when she knew she wanted to have a video done for her single coming out in September, and I said definitely,” she recounts. “She’s got a beautiful voice, so I jumped at the opportunity.”
The portion of the video filmed at LPAC features Bumbray singing alone in a spotlight on the otherwise dark stage. The song itself fits easily into Bumbray’s “acoustic pop soul” ideal. Later, Bumbray and Poe headed down to the dressing rooms, where they shot some takes of Bumbray alternately staring and singing into the mirrors, make-up containers strewn around her. For Poe, the choice to use LPAC for the video was simple: “We’ve already got a relationship with the school, and there’s something about LPAC that just stands out to me as being so extra-theatrical. As soon as she said she wanted some sort of stage scene I just said, ‘Well, let’s do LPAC.’” On Friday, the pair continued filming at Poe’s home in West Philly.
Bumbray aims to release the “Too Much” single and video by October 15th on independent label Harmonious Grits. It will be available on iTunes and Google Play, in addition to other mp3 distribution websites. As she looks forward to a promising career in music, Bumbray reflects on her time at Swarthmore: “In my last two years at Swarthmore, especially, I had a lot of opportunities to perform at various events and it really gave me the amazing opportunity to get more comfortable on stage in a supportive environment. Being a student at Swarthmore made it difficult for me to have time to write music and to rehearse often, but it did give me a taste of real life experience: putting together a performance in a very limited amount of time with limited resources. Overall, I think Swarthmore taught me to think outside of the box and to be conceptual, and these are teachings I constantly apply to my music.” - The Swathmore "Phoenix"

"“BACaSO” Show Embraces Vivid Cultural Ties"

Songstress Cecily (Swarthmore College ‘12) delighted the audience with her tremendous vocal abilities showcased in her single “Crazy for You.” Cecily is set to pursue her career as a solo artist after graduating college but in the meantime, her song “Crazy for You” will be available to download on Valentine’s Day. - Bi-College News


Songs of Love and Freedom - LP, May 2018

- single, March 2018

Cecily - EP, May 2015

Heaven In Your Eyes - single, September 2013

Too Much  - single, August 2012



"Cecily possesses an enviable soprano and a sharp pen.” - Kim Hines, Soulbounce 

“Soothing and nostalgic.” - Singersroom 

“A beautiful newcomer” - Donnie Simpson

DC-based vocalist and songwriter Cecily is known for her agile soprano and honest lyrics. Her current album Songs of Love and Freedom was named “Best New Soul on Bandcamp” by the Bandcamp editorial team, who described the project as “stirringly timeless and modern.”  

Her sound, as soothing as it is rich, is musically mature, and rooted in a deep appreciation for mid-century soul and jazz, 90’s R&B, and re-imagined folk music. Yet her fresh faced lyrics boldly portray the heart young Cecily has fought for, and the wisdom of love earned and freedom gained over a life of being misunderstood and told she was “before her time” or “mature beyond her years.” This influence gives her work a unique sensuality that informs not only her vocal approach, but also her self-reflecting lyrics, grappling with self-acceptance, vulnerability, and rebirth.

In her songs you’ll hear the influence of growing up surrounded by her parents vast record collection. Her father, a lover of Miles Davis, and her mother, a Smokey Robinson fan, filled their home with soulful sounds that captivated their daughter, and which she has channeled into her own work. Soulbounce says that Cecily creates “music that pulls from the past but looks toward the future.”

Cecily has opened for award winning jazz and soul artists Gregory Porter and Jose James, R&B stars Johnny Gill, Kenny Lattimore, and Elle Varner, folk artist Becca Stevens, and alternative soul pioneer Bilal. She has played at the legendary Blues Alley and the Apollo Music Cafe, as well as The Kennedy Center, The Hamilton, The Howard Theater, and Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. In 2017, Cecily and her band were invited by the US Embassy to perform in Colombia at the VI Annual Mompox Jazz Festival.  

Cecily was selected to be part of the Strathmore Artist-in-Residence class of 2018, a program that honed her performance skills and encouraged genre-defying collaborations. Cecily was also the recipient of a 2018 Project Grant from the Montgomery County Arts and Humanities Council, which she is using to fund her next studio project about the mastery of love.

As a Washington, DC native, raised in a city synonymous with politics, it was an obvious choice to pursue a career in public service. But by the age of 21, Cecily walked out of her International Relations classroom feeling disillusioned. She told her mother that after 10 years of singing as a hobby, she wanted to dedicate her life to music. With a degree in Political Science and Black Studies, Cecily began her career as a vocalist and songwriter, with the mission to bring purpose and power to her music and people’s lives. It was music that mattered most then and now.