February 2, 1985 |
|Origin||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, acoustic, blues|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar|
Melody Gardot // (born February 2, 1985) is a Grammy-nominated American singer, writer and musician in Philadelphia, though she considers herself a "citizen of the world". She has been influenced by such blues and jazz artists as Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz and George Gershwin as well as Latin music artists such as Caetano Veloso. Her music has been compared to that of Nina Simone.
Gardot follows the teachings of Buddhism, is a macrobiotic cook and humanitarian who often speaks about the benefits of music therapy. She has visited various universities and hospitals to speak about its ability to help reconnect neural pathways in the brain, improve speech ability, and lift general spirits. In 2012, it was reported that she had given her name to a music-therapy program in New Jersey.
Early life and education
Gardot was born in New Jersey, and was largely brought up by her grandparents. Her grandmother was a Polish immigrant, and her mother, a photographer, worked and traveled frequently. They moved around often and as a consequence had very few possessions, often living out of suitcases. Because of Gardot’s career, she does not stay in one place for long and she finds herself living out of three suitcases, as she did when she was a child.
Accident and therapy
While cycling in Philadelphia in November 2003 she was hit by a car whose driver had ignored a red traffic light. In the accident she suffered serious head and spinal injuries and her pelvis was broken in two places. Because of these severe injuries she was confined to her hospital bed for a year and had to remain lying on her back. As a further consequence of her injuries she had to re-learn simple tasks such as brushing her teeth and walking. The most noticeable effect of the neural injuries she suffered is that she was left hyper-sensitive to both light and sound, therefore requiring her to wear dark sunglasses at nearly all times to shield her eyes. The accident also resulted in both long and short term memory problems and difficulty with her sense of time. Gardot has described coping with this as like "climbing Mount Everest every day" as she often wakes with no memory of what she has to do that day.
Initially prompted by an attending physician who believed music would help her brain injury drastically improve, Gardot began writing music after her accident and now often speaks and advocates in favour of using music for therapy. The accident had damaged the neural pathways between the brain's two cortices, which control perception and higher mental function, and made Gardot (in her own words) "a bit of a vegetable." As well as making it very hard for her to speak or communicate properly, she found it difficult to recall the right words to express her feelings.
Music involving listening and making a verbal attempt to sing or hum is thought[who?] to help the brain form new pathways. At first, Gardot learned to hum and was eventually able to sing into a tape recorder. She made good progress and was eventually able to write original songs that sometimes referred to her rehabilitation.
Gardot's doctor at the University of Medicine of New Jersey, Richard Jermyn, compared her condition to a computer. The computer was still intact and the memory was there but she could not access it. “That's what a brain injury does - It takes your ability to access that away”, Jermyn stated.
For several years after the accident Gardot traveled with a physiotherapist and carried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine strapped to her waist which released pain reducing impulses. While onstage Gardot explains, "the first maybe half a dozen times experiencing this, that was the only 30 minutes in my life that I did not feel pain for that moment. And it was addictive." And so from her accident to her first performances, her music career was born. “It was a most unusual start, but when you come from a place where things are tough it makes it that much easier to appreciate the times when life is easy”, she said.
After her accident, Gardot could not listen to the music she had listened to before, as she could not tolerate anything above a whisper. Because of this, she had to find quieter, more soothing music to listen to. She recalls that while on the treadmill learning to walk again, she would listen to Stan Getz's The Bossa Nova Years album. Because Gardot could not sit comfortably at a piano, she learned to play guitar on her back while in the hospital and shortly after began to write her own music. During her recovery, she wrote material that later became part of a five song EP, “Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions” that Gardot produced herself. Gardot was reluctant to record her songs at first, stating that they were too private for the public to hear. However she soon relented and her songs were soon being played on a Philadelphia radio station.
She was introduced to macrobiotics by a friend who lent her a book on its benefits. She began to experiment and cook for several hours a day. As well as reducing her pain levels, she believes that macrobiotics helped her mental ability to cope with pain, helping her relax as the routine of cooking helped take her mind off her physical condition and she also found that she was able to sleep more easily.
Gardot started music lessons at the age of nine and began playing piano in Philadelphia bars at the age of sixteen on Fridays and Saturdays for four hours a night. She insisted on only playing music she liked, ranging from standards from The Mamas & the Papas to Duke Ellington and modern groups such as Radiohead.
During her time in hospital she learned how to play the guitar and began writing songs, which were made available as downloads in iTunes and released in Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions in 2005. She began to play these songs at venues in Philadelphia and was spotted by the radio station WXPN, operated by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which helped to launch Norah Jones. As well as playing her songs, WXPN encouraged her to assemble a demo, which was quickly picked up by Universal Records.
Released in 2006 and then re-released by Verve Records in 2008, her first full-length album was entitled Worrisome Heart. After meeting her in New York City in 2008, producer Larry Klein began working with Gardot and they released her second album, My One and Only Thrill, on April 28, 2009. From this album, the song "Who Will Comfort Me?" became a top 10 hit at Smooth Jazz radio. Also in 2009, Gardot released a live EP, Live from SoHo. Gardot is a recipient of the 2007 VSA International Young Soloists Award.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|My One and Only Thrill||
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions||—|
|Live from SoHo||
|Bye Bye Blackbird EP||
|A Night With Melody EP||
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart|
- "Worrisome Heart" (2008)
- "Goodnite" (2008)
- "Quiet Fire" (2008)
- "Who Will Comfort Me" (2009) (#6 on Jazz Songs)
- "Baby I'm a Fool" (2009) (#28 on Jazz Songs)
- "Your Heart Is As Black As Night" (2011)
- "Mira" (2012)
- "Amalia" (2012) (#24 Jazz Songs)
- "La Vie En Rose" (2012)
Gardot appears on the following songs, on vocals and occasionally piano or guitar, by other artists:
- Bluer Than A Midnight Sky – Beaucoup Blue – Free To Fall
- High Night (Alta Noite) – Till Brönner – RIO
- If I'm Lucky – Charlie Haden Quartet West – Sophisticated Ladies, Emarcy 2010
- My Sweet Darling – Seth Kallen & The Reaction – Exhibit A
- A Meditation On War And The Fight For Love – Phil Roy – The Great Longing
- Derrière L'arc-En-Ciel/Over the Rainbow – Eddy Mitchell – Grand Ecran
- Under My Skin – A 30 second Frank Sinatra cover used in the 2008 Chevy Malibu commercials
- Sous Les Ponts de Paris (Under The Bridges Of Paris) – Juliette Gréco – Ça Se Traverse et C'est Beau (released Feb 21, 2012)
- Tant Pis - Jesse Harris – Sub Rosa (released July 31, 2012)
- Mon Fantôme – Baptiste Trotignon – Song Song Song (release scheduled for September 29, 2012)
- There Are Angels – Lizanne Knott – Marionette (scheduled for September 24, 2012 UK release)
- Somewhere Else - Federico Aubele - 5 (Released in Fall of 2013)
- Limoeiro - Pierre Aderne - Caboclo (Scheduled for 2014 release)
- Too Good To Let Go - Melody Gardot for Ing Diba. (2013-2014 Press releases indicate the song was written exclusively for use by Ing DiBa and the company offered a 256kbs mp3 download on their website in December 2013).
Covers of songs by other songwriters
As she is usually considered a jazz singer, Gardot is unusual in her output of original songs so early in her career. Nearly all of the songs on her recordings are original work, although some were co-written with Jesse Harris. She has, however, performed covers of songs by some well-known songwriters:
- Fever – Cooley/Blackwell, Peggy Lee (live performance during 2007 London Jazz Festival Ella Fitzgerald tribute concert)
- Over the Rainbow – Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg (My One and Only Thrill; numerous live performances during 2008-2010)
- Ain't No Sunshine – Bill Withers (My One and Only Thrill, Deluxe Edition; several live performances during 2008-2009)
- Blue Motel Room – Joni Mitchell (performed live in Philadelphia in 2006)
- Edith and the Kingpin – Joni Mitchell (performed on Live From Abbey Road in 2008, with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter)
- La Chanson des Vieux Amants – Jacques Brel (performed live in Paris in 2009, with David Preston on guitar)
- Because – The Beatles (performed on Live from Abbey Road in 2009, with David Preston on guitar)
- Get Out of Town – Cole Porter (performed live in Paris in 2010 in two different arrangements, and on BBC Four Sessions 2010)
- Someday My Prince Will Come – Larry Morey (lyrics) & Frank Churchill (performed on BBC Four Sessions 2010)
- Summertime – DuBose Heyward (lyrics) & George Gershwin (numerous live performances in 2010 summer tour, often in medley with 'Fever')
- La Vie en Rose - Édith Piaf (lyrics), Marguerite Monnot and Louiguy (music) (The Absence, Deluxe Edition, for Piaget)
- "Globetrotting Melody Gardot". Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- "Official Myspace Page". Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "KCRW Tom Schnabel Music Program 2011,03,27 @17:55".
- Kerr, Alison (2009-06-13). "Interview". The Herald Magazine: 14–17.
- Iley, Chrissy (2009-03-29). "Melody Gardot: Music is my love – men are just my lovers". Times online (iley). Retrieved 21 November 2009.
- "Macrobiotics.co.uk". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- "Doctors told me I'd never walk again, but now I'm performing in six-inch heels: How music therapy helped singer Melody Gardot to beat brain damage" (12 June 2012) Daily Mail, London
- "UNCHAINED MELODY: When she was 19 a road accident nearly ended Melody Gardot's life - and started her acclaimed singing career. Eight years on, she still can't escape the pain but it hasn't stopped her travelling the world to record her third album" (May 5, 2012) Telegraph Magazine, London
- Iley, Chrissie (2009-03-29). The Sunday Times Magazine. pp. 12–17.
- "The Making of Melody". European Intelligence Wire. 20 September 2009.
- "Unchained Melody". Philadelphia Citypaper. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Melody Gardot hits New York". July 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- Melody Gardot interview by Pete Lewis, 'Blues & Soul' November 2008
- Zuel, Bernard (02-05-2009). "Melody Gardot should not be playing music". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 2009-08-09. Check date values in:
- "How Melody Gardot Found Her Voice". CBS News. 14 June 2010.
- "Melody Gardot". Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Holden, Stephen (October 15, 2009). "From Death's door to Earning the Keys to the World".
- "Macrobiotics Guide". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- "Melody Gardot". Retrieved 2009-08-09.
- Melody Gardot - Allmusic
- Melody Gardot - australian-charts.com
- Melody Gardot - lescharts.com (in French)
- Melody Gardot - acharts.us
- - http://www.oricon.co.jp (in Japanese)
- Melody Gardot - http://dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch)
- Melody Gardot - charts.org.nz
- Melody Gardot - swedishcharts.com (in Swedish)
- Melody Gardot - zobbel.de
- French album certifications – Melody Gardot – My One and Only Thrill (in French)
- Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Melody Gardot; 'My One and Only Thrill') (in German)
- Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2010
- French album certifications – Melody Gardot – The Absence (in French)
- "Melody Gardot teams up with Piaget". Retrieved 2012-05-01.