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Nonesuch Records releases Cécile McLorin Salvant’sMélusine on CD March 24, 2023 and LP on May 19, 2023. Mélusine features a mix of five originals and interpretations of nine songs, dating as far back as the twelfth century, mostly sung in French along with Occitan, English, and Haitian Kreyol.
The new album’s songs tell the story of the European folkloric legend of Mélusine, a woman who turns into a half-snake each Saturday as a result of a childhood curse by her mother. Mélusine later agrees to marry Raymondin on the condition that he never see her on Saturdays. He agrees but is ultimately convinced by his brother to break his promise, piercing his wife’s door with his sword and finding her naked in the bath, half snake, half woman. When she catches him spying on her, she turns into a dragon and flies out the window, only to reappear every time one of her descendants is on their deathbed.
Salvant, whose parents are French and Haitian, saysMélusine is also “partly about that feeling of being a hybrid, a mixture of different cultures, which I’ve experienced not only as the American-born child of two first generation immigrants, but as someone raised in a family that is racially mixed, from several different countries, with different languages spoken in the home.”