28 June 2017

MELODY GARDOT; SEDUCED FROM THE DARKNESS

 

Melody Gardot was born February 2, 1985 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States). At 16 years old, she performed for some jazz clubs in Philadelphia in order to pay for her music studies, she played the piano and performed the classics; Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles and more. At 19 years old she suffered a terrible accident. One day riding a bicycle through the city, a car ran a red light and hit her, causing grave injuries: a double fractured pelvis, damage to her spine and a traumatic brain injury, with a reserved diagnosis for improvement.

 

 

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She had to remain hospitalized for a year, leaving her with various consequences, among others, chronic and irreversible pain. Still today, she cannot stay too long in the same position and tends to walk with a cane. However, the cerebral impact left her with other consequences, like hypoesthesia (excessive sensitivity and irritation to sounds and light).

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It took months to speak again, her brain functioned, but her words could not find a way out of her mouth, and it took even more time to return to walking. A neurologist encouraged her to use music as therapy.
Melody spent hours playing the guitar in bed and composing songs. As part of her rehabilitation therapy and considering that she played jazz, she lay on her bed trying to hum with her guitar to help.

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Then in 2005, she came up with the material for an EP of six songs that she ended up calling ‘Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions’, a collection of themes in which Melody contemplates from a positive and revitalizing perspective, her talent and abilities recovered again.

“Without that accident, perhaps I wouldn’t have as much to say.”

In 2008 she published her first album titled WORRISOME HEART. A critic acclaimed this work as soon as it appeared. Turning it into one of the most impressive debut albums in recent Jazz history, receiving the very same admiration as Norah Jones or Diana Krall. The following year she published MY ONE AND ONLY THRILL with production by Larry Klein and arrangement by Vince Mendoza, more than a million copies were sold.

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In an interview she said, “There are many stories of people that have had near death experiences and how it has changed their life. Absolutely everything changes inside of us, outside of us, and around us. It’s for the better, I cannot imagine being more grateful for waking up and being who I am now. <It is a miracle> “When I returned home there were a pair of stiletto heels at the foot of the bed and I kept looking at them thinking that ‘someday I’m going to put them on’. I met an osteopath, a person very special who did not give a damn about the business of medical insurers or the number of patients she was meant to attend daily and I asked him, ‘do you think I can return to walking some day?’, and she told me “I am going to see you dancing.””

A TRIP THROUGH THE SENSES AND PASSIONS THROUGHOUT THE MUSIC OF MELODY GARDOT

The lights go off on the dim stage, the silence reigns in the audience, Melody comes on the stage, and you see the approval of the entire crowd, both music lovers and outsiders alike. She is a jazz star and so she claims it. She walks decisively to the center supported by the cane that gives her security in the static of her still fragile sense of balance; she rises onto a small platform about 4 or 5 centimeters, left supported by the cane.
A light cannon illuminates her figure. She approaches the microphone and begins to sing the blues a capella, accompanying herself with the click of her fingers, the jingling of a bracelet and with the tap of her heal on the platform, there is nobody who could resist her.

“I feel more comfortable writing blues because I understand suffering.”

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Melody is capable of making the crowd vibrate, dance and think in only an hour and a half. It is magnificent and grand. It is effective and easy. It is the future with a sense of classic. It is also a mix of sounds and a sensation with little definition, which it wants to be bigger. At the moment it encompasses it all, the public appreciates it and the future will tell if she defines an artistic style or if her eclecticism of world music will be her contribution to history.

Because Melody Gardot is one of those singers that you have to se, it is not enough to listen to her, no, you have to see her, you have to admire her beautiful, melodic return to health, her voice like a gift for who has the fortune to enjoy her in a seat in the Palau de la Música, a the festival Jazzaldia Donosti or at the Olympia in Paris.

Jazz is a demanding genre and Melody Gardot, adorns its, flaunts it, carries it to the world in steps that are accompanied by a cane that gives her security and that is magnificently replaced with the piano or the guitar, instruments that not only balance her, but reaffirm her place in the world.

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When she sings, Melody Gardot says that she can be any age and be from any place in the world. Neither her age, nor her nationality, nor language, are limits to everything she is capable of. We can listen to her authorship in “Mira” or “Baby I’m a fool” and we feel delighted, it also happens with “Over the Rainbow” a happy and different version; or her rendition of “La Vie en Rose”, with her own signature or “Sodade” by Cesaria Evora with a feeling that makes her chronologically out of place.

I do not want to conclude without offering a sample of the sensitivity in which Melody interprets a curious version of the song Over the Rainbow, (a tribute to her grandmother) in which she touches the brushes over one drum without the other parts of a drum set, while her bassist plays his instrument as if it were a guitar.

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It was April 2012 when she came to Barcelona to present her latest record “Absence” with a memorable performance at the Palau de la Música. “What a magnificent place! I remember a lot about Barcelona and that crowd. They gave me one of the most beautiful standing ovations I can remember. It thrilled me”, she recalls. “It is a very beautiful city, it has a special soul. Only in Paris and Barcelona have I had the thought of falling into the arms of the crowd. I hope to return.”

Art and music are an alliance of survival, they cure the soul, because to create is to reinvent, to spread proof of existence.  Melody Gardot personifies the above, a siren of the stage that we listen to fascinated by each song with which she honors and celebrates life.  

I would not want to conclude this profile without quoting one of Melody’s favorite phrases, a quote by Louis Pasteur: “Chance favors the prepared mind”.

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Melody Gardot performing the song ‘Preach Man’ at the Olympia theatre in Paris live in 2015. Listen to it here.

Read 1937 times Last modified on Friday, 04 August 2017 13:46

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