Melody Gardot /ɡɑːrˈdoʊ/ (born February 2, 1985) is an American jazz singer who 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. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award.
At the age of 19, Gardot was involved in a bicycle accident and sustained a head injury. Music played a critical role in her recovery. She became an advocate of music therapy, visiting hospitals and universities to discuss its benefits. In 2012, she gave her name to a music therapy program in New Jersey.
and was brought up by her grandparents. Her grandmother was a Polish immigrant. Her mother, a photographer, traveled often, so they had few possessions and lived out of suitcases. Gardot studied fashion at the Community College of Philadelphia.
While riding her bicycle in Philadelphia in November 2003, Gardot was struck by the driver of an SUV and sustained head, spinal, and pelvic injuries. Confined to a hospital bed for a year, she needed to relearn simple tasks and was left oversensitive to light and sound. Suffering from short- and long-term memory loss, she struggled with her sense of time.
Encouraged by a physician who believed music would help heal her brain, Gardot learned to hum, then to sing into a tape recorder, and eventually to write songs.
For several years, she traveled with a physiotherapist and carried a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator to reduce pain.
Given her oversensitivity to sound, she chose quieter music. On the treadmill, she listened to bossa nova by Stan Getz. Unable to sit comfortably at the piano, she learned to play guitar on her back. During her recovery, she wrote songs that became part of the self-produced EP Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions. Gardot was reluctant to record her songs at first, stating that they were too private for the public to hear, but relented and allowed her songs to be played on a Philadelphia radio station.
Gardot is a Buddhist, macrobiotic cook, and humanitarian. She speaks fluent French in addition to her native English and considers herself a “citizen of the world”.
Since 2017, Melody Gardot lives in Paris, even though she is often on tour.
Gardot started music lessons at the age of nine and began playing piano in Philadelphia bars at the age of 16 on Fridays and Saturdays for four hours a night. She insisted on playing only music she liked, such as The Mamas & the Papas, Duke Ellington, and Radiohead.
During her time in the hospital she learned how to play the guitar and began writing songs, which were made available as downloads on iTunes and released on Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions in 2005. She began to play these songs at venues in Philadelphia and was noticed by employees of the radio station WXPN, operated by the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which helped to start the career of Norah Jones. She was encouraged to send a demo tape to the radio station, and the tape found its way to the Universal Music Group. She released her first album, Worrisome Heart (Verve, 2006), then My One and Only Thrill (Verve 2009), produced by Larry Klein
Worrisome Heart is the debut album of jazz singer-songwriter Melody Gardot. It was released independently in 2006 and later re-released on Verve Records in 2007 and 2008. The album contains new recordings of songs previously released on Gardot’s first extended play release, Some Lessons: The Bedroom Sessions as well as unreleased tracks.
Speaking of how the album first came to be made, in November 2008 Gardot told noted British jazz/soul writer Pete Lewis of Blues & Soul that: “It was created independently of a record company. It was made privately. So my only intention, or my only goal, was to make a record that at the end of the day I was happy with. And the way that the instrumentation was decided on was based on what I heard in my head, and what I thought would feel the best. So I guess having it released is kinda like having somebody publish your diary in a way!”
The tracks “Wicked Ride”, “Some Lessons” and “Goodnite” were re-recorded for this album and are not the versions that appear on the Some Lessons EP. The 2006 independent release has a longer running time of 41:40 as it included the new version of “Wicked Ride”, as well as the hidden track “Sorry State”, which were omitted when released by Verve Records. The album cover and track listing were changed for a promotional release in 2007 and again for its eventual official release under the label in 2008. (by wikipedia)
Melody Gardot’s debut recording, released in 2006, came two years after she suffered a near fatal automobile accident, the differently able Gardot triumphing in accomplishing what many others, including her, could only dream of. This project has her singing and playing guitar and a little piano, but more so presenting this project of all original material. Gardot has an interesting personal story, but even more intriguing music that straddles the line between lounge jazz, folk, and cowgirl songs. She’s part sophisticated chanteuse, college sophomore, and down-home girl next door. Her innocence, sweetness, and light are very alluring, much like the persona of tragic songbirds Eva Cassidy and Nancy LaMott. Feel empathy for Gardot, but don’t patronize her — she’s the real deal much more that many of her over-hyped peers. “Quiet Fire” is definitely her signature tune, as it speaks volumes of where her soul is at, in a jazz/blues mode, yearning for true love. The title track follows a similar tack, a slow, sweet, sentimental slinky blues that will melt your heart. A finger-snapping “Goodnite” leaves you wanting that night to continue, but also exudes a hope that permeates the entire recording. She might be a bit down on men during the nonplussed “All That I Need Is Love,” but her subdued optimism glows cool. “Sweet Memory” might possibly parallel Feist or perhaps KT Tunstall in a rural country mode, while “Gone” is clearly folkish, and the slow “Some Lessons” expresses a contemporary Nashville precept. The laid-back music behind Gardot is basically acoustic, incorporating hip jazz instrumentation, especially the trumpet of Patrick Hughes and occasional organ, Wurlitzer, or Fender Rhodes from Joel Bryant, but with twists including violin, lap steel, and Dobro. The concise nature of this recording and these tunes perfectly reflects the realization that life is precious, every moment counts, and satisfaction is fleeting. Likely to be placed in the Norah Jones/Nellie McKay/Madeleine Peyroux pseudo jazz/pop sweepstakes, Gardot offers something decidedly more authentic and genuine. She’s one-upped them all out of the gate. (by Michael G. Nastos)
Mike Brenner (lap steel guitar)
Joel Bryant (keyboards, wurlitzer)
Matt Cappy (trumpet)
Melody Gardot (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Patrick Hughes (trumpet)
Jef Lee Johnson (guitar)
Kurt Johnston (dobro)
Ron Kerber (clarinet, saxophone)
Paul Klinefelter (bass)
Barney McKenna (guitar)
Diane Monroe (violin)
David Mowry (dobro)
Charlie Patierno (drums, percussion)
Ken Pendergast (bass)
Stan Slotter (trumpet)
01. Worrisome Heart 4.23
02. All That I Need Is Love 2.38
03. Gone 2.53
04. Sweet Memory 3.23
05. Some Lessons 5.24
06. Quiet Fire 4.14
07. One Day 2.04
08. Love Me Like A River Does 4.07
09. Goodnite 3.05
10. Twilight 1.01
All songs written by Melody Gardot