Biography

Award-winning, New York-based vocal virtuoso, Gino Sitson is a French-American originally from the Bamileke region of Cameroon, Central Africa. His family comes from a long line of musicians known as Ntontas (“players of horns”) and his mother was a vocalist and choir director. He and his siblings were introduced to blues, jazz and African traditional music early in life.

Gino Sitson holds a PhD in Musicology from Paris-Sorbonne University under the supervision of Professor Jean-Marc Chouvel. He also earned a MS degree in education sciences. His work focuses on music cognition, expressive properties of the voice and the process of transmitting music from the ‘black’ diaspora. Among them, he is particularly interested in Gwoka music from Guadeloupe. Dr. Sitson has released eight albums of his original music and continues to actively perform internationally as well as in his adopted home of New York City. 

Dr. Sitson is a pioneer among multi-culturally influenced African musicians who are integrating into their unique musical styles their own exciting welter of “in-between” living experiences (north/south, tradition/modernity, 20th/21st century). His daring musical projects combine jazz, gospel, blues, and traditional African polyphonies, polyrhythms and melodies in a most innovative way. By freely combining his trademark vocal acrobatics with a creative command of oral and body percussions and miscellaneous effects, Sitson forges an eloquent vocabulary that communicates beyond the limits of any language or custom and his vocal wizardry creates a stunning range of sounds and atmospheres. His seamless four-octave range travels from a soulful, resonantly masculine tenor with woodwind-like overtones to a high-soaring, nearly genderless spiritual wail, a feat that recalls Brazil’s Milton Nascimento, another deep-rooted yet restlessly protean, jazz-inflected shape-changer. He delivers an exciting and energetic combination of new sounds, which has roots in the African tradition with hints of classical European and American jazz, makes the music and the experience of listening to it truly unique. 

Dr. Sitson’s four-octave vocal range added to his skills as a composer and arranger put him in high demand for recording sessions and for commercials and radio / television jingles (Danone, Dim, Peugeot, Vahine, etc). This versatile vocalist has performed in a musical and co-composed part of the music (Jeanne et le Garçon Formidable). He has laid down tracks and shared the stage with Manu Dibango, Ron Carter, Papa Wemba, Wally Badarou, John Scofield, Geri Allen, David Gilmore,Haruko Nara, Bobby McFerrin, Frank Wess, Résidente, Ray Lema, Craig Harris, James Hurt, Antoine Roney, John William, Mario Canonge, Wallace Roney, Brice Wassy, Oliver NGoma, Exile One, Steve Potts, So Why? (Featuring Youssou NDour, Papa Wemba, Wally Badarou, Jabu Khanyile & Bayete, Lourdes Van-Dunem, and Lucky Dube) and La Compagnie Creole, among others. In 2008, Mr. Sitson was invited by Bobby McFerrin to join him on a PBS documentary (“The music instinct: Science & Song”), to take part in a special project that took place at Carnegie Hall (“Instant Opera”). Dr. Sitson also performed at Carnegie Hall with his own group in 2008.

A member of Chamber Music America, he is regularly engaged for movie scores and commercials, and composed music for the children’s TV show, Dora the Explorer (Nickelodeon), all while his international career continues apace. Dr. Sitson’s output also includes soundtracks to Betrayal (Kevin Ngooh), Blue Lotus (Dayo Ayodele), jingles for France Television and France 3. He received the “Parents Choice Silver Medal Honor Award” in 2004 and was nominated for the RFI Awards 2000 (Finalist “Decouvertes RFI” 2000).  Aside from musical performances, Sitson also leads vocal workshops served by his unique vocal technique, musical knowledge, and his desire to share his love for vocal explorations. Dr. Sitson has developed workshops for professional as well as non-professional singers, and also for children. A researcher in musicology, his work focuses on music cognition, expressive properties of the voice and the process of transmitting music from the “black” diaspora. Among them, he is particularly interested in Gwoka music from Guadeloupe (French West Indies).

Dr. Sitson has been a Cultural Arts ambassador for the city of Miami (Florida)since 2006 and is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to Cameroon.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: American Society for Ethnomusicology, American Musicological Society, ASCAP, Caribbean Studies Association, Chamber Music America, EthnomusiKa, IReMus / CNRS, SACEM, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, Société française d’analyse musicale, Société française d’ethnomusicologie.

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