Girtley was born and raised in New Orleans Louisiana where she grew up on the west bank of the Mississippi River in an area of the city called Algiers. She comes from a family with strong spiritual beliefs and a rich musical background. As a little girl Girtley’s style of singing and piano playing was highly influenced by listening to recordings of the late Mahalia Jackson and Mildred Falls, as well as hearing her mother, Adeline singing at home and in the church’s choir on Sunday mornings. Young Cynthia would listen to the songs, memorize them and then sing them to her mother.
Throughout high school and college she continued singing, playing the piano and directing choirs for churches in the city. After high school Girtley attended Xavier University where she majored in music performance. During her career Girtley has performed in Europe and toured Brazil singing gospel. Girtley has appeared at major festivals and concert venues, such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Cathedral in Washington DC, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Global African Festival in Dallas, the Cincinnati Blues Festival in Ohio and the Bourbon Street Festival in Sao Paulo and Rio. In 2013 Girtley performed for the XLVII Super Bowl on Super Bowl Blvd. She has also had the opportunity to work, perform and record with New Orleanian jazz historian and world renowned clarinetist Dr. Michael White.
In May of 2011 Girtley produced and released her debut CD entitled “A New Orleans Tribute to Mahalia Jackson” with Dr. Michael White as guest artist. The following year she released her newest CD entitled “It’s In My Heart.” While contemporary, hip hop, gospel rap, and urban gospel seems to be more prevalent today, Girtley continues to carry the torch of such pioneers as the late Thomas Dorsey, James Cleveland, Mahalia Jackson and Mildre Falls by continuing to sing and perform traditional gospel music.