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Women of extraordinary destiny : Melody Gardot (Singer, songwriter,musician)

Updated on March 24, 2013
Melody Gardot live in Admiralspalast in Berlin September 2010
Melody Gardot live in Admiralspalast in Berlin September 2010 | Source
Melody Gardot in Rotterdam , the Netherlands, in July 2009
Melody Gardot in Rotterdam , the Netherlands, in July 2009 | Source

Humble beginnings

I will be in Paris this coming July and so will she, performing again at the Olympia, the most famous Paris music-hall. And whatever the price of a ticket to go see her on stage might be, it will be money well spent. Any singer whose songs have been compared to Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Billy Joel and Ray Charles among others will always get my full attention. And Melody Gardot always get the center stage of my interest whenever I hear her sing, which happens quite often as she has become one of my very favorite singers of all times, and this for a number of reasons

First she is extremely talented, as a singer, a songwriter and a musician. She writes a melody in a way only Melody could. Yes, I am a big fan of hers. But it is also the unexpected and painful way she gained a well deserved fame that retained my interest.

Melody Gardot was born in New-Jersey in 1985. That's right, she's only 28 years old at the time of writing, but she's already lived a life fuller than most of us will ever do. She was mostly raised by her grandparents as her mother, a photographer, traveled a lot. The family moved around often too, so gathering possessions was not a priority, and she reportedly lived out of suitcases. Like many other girls, she started studying music at the age of nine. At sixteen, she could be found on week-ends playing the piano in Philadelphia bars and nightclubs, always insisting on playing only the music she liked.

The accidental musician...

At age 19, she was studying fashion at the Philadelphia Community College. In November 2003, a car driver ignoring a red light knocked her out the bicycle she was riding and left her for dead in the street. This was to change her destiny forever. She survived the accident but suffered head injuries, her spinal cord was permanently damaged and her pelvis broken in two different places. As a consequence of her injuries, she remained confined to a hospital bed, laying on her back for a whole year. She also had to relearn things most of us take for granted such as walking. She became hypersensitive to noise and light. From then on, she had to wear sunglasses almost all the time to protect her eyes and couldn't tolerate noises louder than a whisper. Finally, she suffered long and short term memory loss. She often wakes up with no idea of what's on her agenda for the day. Melody described herself as "a bit of a vegetable" and compared coping with her condition as "climbing Mount Everest every day"

One thing that was left intact in her, though, was a strong will. As she laid on her bed in the hospital, she had nothing but time on her hands. As playing the piano was no longer an option, she learned how to play the guitar, an instrument she could play on her hospital bed, and started writing songs. Music had always been a large part of her life but now it had also become a therapy. However, because of her newly discovered intolerance to noise, she had to listen to a different, quieter, kind of music. As she learned to walk again with the help of a treadmill, she listened to Stan Getz album "The Bossa Nova Years", which fit the part perfectly.

On May 3, 2005, her first album "Some lessons, the bedroom sessions" was released. Coming out of the hospital, she started to play and sing on the local Philadelphia scene again, soon to be noticed by WXPN, the radio station operated by the University of Philadelphia, which incidentally, also helped launching Norah Jones' career. She was encouraged to put together a demo album, and was eventually signed by Universal Records, under which label her album "Worrisome Heart" was first published in 2006, to be re-released by Verve records in 2008. But an even wider success was to come in the form of her album "My one and only thrill" released by Verve Records in April 2009.

...who became a legend!

In 2013, Melody is touring Europe almost non-stop: France (10 concerts), Denmark, Norway (4 concerts), Poland (2), Austria, Switzerland (2), the U. K. and Morocco. As she usually does, she will walk on stage with the help of canes, will sit on her specially built bench and when the ovations finally stop, the magic of her singing will begin again.

Released under the Verve label on May 12 2012, Melody’s new album "The Absence" has stormed the global charts scoring Top 20 debuts in 14 territories, including #1s in Norway, France, Portugal, Canada, the USA and Australia. A fantastic start to the campaign!

As she once said, “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”. An example of courage, determination and willpower, Melody Gardot is an inspiration to all. Her talent brought her where she is, our admiration should keep her there. She still lives out of suitcases, being on the road so much. She is a true woman of extraordinary destiny.

Visit Melody Gardot's website :

Sample Melody Gardot's unique style :

Copyright 2013 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns for the text. Photographs as credited.

Singing at the Newport Jazz Festival in August 2008
Singing at the Newport Jazz Festival in August 2008 | Source


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      Bow 3 years ago

      Karen, I'm glad you got that kind of benefit from wrintig the piece. It was a beautiful piece of wrintig.Meantime I've been enjoying going back through my archives as I tidy up before my move to WordPress. Keep on finding things I'd forgotten I'd written and need to re-remember the lesson!Joanna

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      Bernard J. Toulgoat 4 years ago from Treasure Coast, Florida

      I'm glad you enjoyed this story, Eiddwen. Thank you for your nice comment

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant read and thank you for sharing.I knew little about this wonderful star but that has now changed. Voted up and I wish you a great day.