Cecilia Coleman joined the CSULB Applied Music Faculty in spring 1986 and returned in 1997 to be named CSULB's Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and was appointed to the faculty to teach jazz piano. She was born in Long Beach, California on September 8, 1962 and began playing the piano at age 5. At 15 she began to study jazz piano and also became a member of her high school jazz ensemble. Coleman graduated from CSU Long Beach in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music degree in Commercial Music/Piano Performance. In 1990 the Los Angeles Jazz Society awarded her its Shelly Manne New Talent Award.
Coleman has led her own group since 1990 when she formed a trio with bassist, Eric Von Essen and Drummer Kendal Kay. In 1993 her quintet was formed. The quintet has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival (1995), the Telluride (Colorado) Jazz Festival, the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, the Gainesville (Florida) Jazz Artist Series, the Idyllwild Jazz Festival, and the New Mexico Jazz Workshop.
As a sideman, Coleman has worked with Jimmy Cleveland, Eddie Harris, Lee Konitz, Bud Shank, Red Holloway, Bill Perkins, Pete Christlieb, Marvin "Smitty" Smith, Ralph Moore, and the Clayton-Hamilton Big Band. She has three albums released as leader: Home and Young and Foolish, both on Resurgent Music label and her first, Words of Wisdom on LAP Records. She has recorded 12 albums as a sideman, including Jimmy Cleveland (VTL) and Basic Instincts (Henry Franklin: Resurgent). In 1998 the trio also released the album, Higher Standards.