Melody Gardot was born on February 2, 1985 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA). At the age of 16, she performed for some jazz clubs in Philadelphia, to pay for her music studies, played the piano and played the classics; Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles …
At the age of 19, she suffered a terrible accident. One day, while riding a bicycle through her city, an all-terrain vehicle running a red light ran into her, causing very serious injuries: double fracture of the pelvis, damage to the spinal column and cranioencephalic trauma, with a reserved diagnosis.
She had to remain hospitalized for a year, with various sequels, among others; a chronic and irreversible pain. Even today, she cannot remain too long in the same posture and usually walks leaning on a cane. But the cerebral affectation also left him other sequels, such as hypostesia (excessive and annoying sensitivity to noise and light).
It took him months to speak again – his brain was working, but the words couldn’t get out of his mouth – and even longer to walk again. A neurologist encouraged her to use music as therapy.
Melody spent hours playing guitar in bed and composing songs. As part of her rehabilitation therapy and considering that she was playing some jazz… Lying on the bed she tried to sing with the help of a guitar …
That’s how, in 2005, the material for a six-song EP came to be called ‘Some lessons’ ‘The Bedroom Sessions’. A collection of tracks in which Melody looks from a positive and revitalising perspective at some newly recovered gifts and aptitudes.
“Without that accident I might not have much to say”.
In 2008 he released his first album titled WORRISOME HEART. This work was acclaimed by the critics as soon as it appeared. Becoming one of the most impressive debut albums in the recent history of Jazz, getting the admiration of the same Norah Jones or Diana Krall. The following year, MY ONE AND ONLY THRILL was released with Larry Klein’s production and Vince Mendoza’s arrangements, more than a million copies were sold.
In an interview he said, «There are many stories of people who have had near-death experiences and how their lives have changed. Absolutely everything changes within you. And out of us, around us. For the better. I can’t imagine being more thankful to wake up and to be what I am now. «It’s a miracle» «When I came home there was a pair of stiletto-heeled shoes at the foot of the bed and I kept looking at them thinking ‘someday I’m going to put them on’. I met an osteopath, a very special person who didn’t give a damn about the insurance business or the number of patients he was supposed to see on a daily basis, and I asked, ‘Do you think I’ll ever be able to walk again?’.
And she said, «I’m going to see you dancing».
Journey through the senses and passions through Melody Gardot’s music
The lights go out, the stage remains in darkness, silence reigns in the audience, Melody goes on stage, dresses to please all audiences. To the most music lovers and to the most outsiders. He’s a jazz star and that’s how he claims to be. She walks decisively towards the centre supported by the cane that gives her security in the statics of her still fragile sense of balance, she climbs on a small platform of about 4 or 5 centimetres, she leaves the cane supported.
A cannon of punctual light illuminates his figure. He approaches the microphone, and begins to sing a blues ‘a capela’, accompanied only by the snapping of his fingers, the jingle of a bracelet and with a sharp blow of heel on the platform, no one can resist him.
«I feel more comfortable writing a blues because I understand suffering».
Melody is able to make the audience vibrate, dance and reflect in just an hour and a half. It’s great and big. It’s effective and easy. It’s future with classic essence. It is also a mixture of sounds, and a feeling of little definition in what wants to be greater. At the moment it encompasses everything, the public appreciates it, and the future will tell if it defines an artistic line or if its eclecticism of world music will be its passport to history.
Because Melody Gardot is one of those singers you have to see, it is not enough to listen to her, no, you have to see her, you have to admire her health return melodic beauty, her voice as a gift for those of us who have the fortune to enjoy it either in an armchair at the Palau de la Música, at the Jazzaldia Donosti festival or at the Olympia in Paris.
Jazz is a demanding genre and Melody Gardot, adorns it, wears it, takes it around the world in the steps that accompany the cane that gives it security and that magnificently supplies it with the piano or the guitar, instruments that not only balance it, but reaffirm its place in the world.
When she sings, Melody Gardot tells herself that she can be of any age and from anywhere in the world. Her age, nationality and language are no limit to what she is capable of. We can listen to her in “Mira” or “BabyI’m a fool” of her authorship and feel enchanted, as it also happens with “Somewhere over the rainbow” in a happy and different version; or her interpretation of “La vie en Rose” with her own signature or “Sodade” of Cesaria Evora with such a feeling that it makes her anachronistic.
And I don’t want to conclude without offering an example of Melody‘s sensitivity in a curious version of the song Over the Rainbow, (a tribute to her grandmother) in which she herself plays the brushes on a box with no more elements than a drum set, while the bass player lashes out with his instrument as if it were a guitar.
It was in April 2012 that he came to Barcelona to present his latest album “Absence” with a memorable performance at the Palau de la Música. «What a magnificent place! I remember Barcelona and its audience very much. He gave me one of the most beautiful ovations I can remember. It moved me», he remembers. «It’s a very beautiful city, it has a particular soul. Only in Paris and Barcelona have I had the feeling of falling into the arms of the audience. I hope to return».
Art and music are an alliance of survival, they heal the soul, because to create is to reinvent, to sow testimony of existence. Melody Gardotpersonifies the above, siren stage that we hear fascinated in every song with which honors and celebrates life.
I would not want to conclude this review without quoting one of Melody‘s favorite phrases, a quote from Louis Pasteur: “Luck favors the prepared mind”.