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).
By: Thelma D. Jones
Thelma D. Jones serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly and is involved in civic fundraisers.