Melody Gardot became a Buddhist by accident. Quite literally.
While bicycling through her native Philadelphia in 2003, the jazz diva was hit by a Jeep, then confined to a hospital bed for more than a year with serious head, spinal and pelvic injuries, and resulting complications dog her to this day.
“[That’s] when someone gave me a book on the essential teachings of the Dalai Lama, and it was exactly what I was thinking,” she says. “It aligned perfectly with where I was at that time, especially the idea of nonattachment. And that, to understand pure joy, you must also understand total sadness.”
On her MySpace page, Gardot — who plays The Fillmore on Thursday, backing her latest effort, “My One and Only Thrill” — makes self-deprecating light of her disabilities.
She warns fans that they’ll probably see her sporting earplugs (from hyperacusis/tinnitus), dark glasses (she’s photo-sensitive), “citizen cane” (for stability) and what she requires most of all: really nice shoes.
She also has followed Buddhism’s middle-path tenet — that life’s suffering can end when craving does — to a logical, but extreme, conclusion.
She recently jettisoned her apartment, almost all her possessions, and even her beloved cat Maestro.
The feline is happily bunking with Gardot’s assistant’s mother. “I would never Craigslist my cat — that’s crazy!” she says.
But touring 11 months out of every year, Gardot says, “It just doesn’t make sense to have a place. So all I need now is a hotel room with housekeeping, room service and a minibar. And if I need anything else, I call the concierge.”
Everything she owns can easily be transported in two suitcases. “And I think I still have too much,” Gardot says. “Every week, I wind up combing through my bags and letting things go.”
Doesn’t this Peggy Lee-cool chanteuse panic, not having an abode? “Hey, the world is my home!” she says. “And it’s not scary — it’s beautiful, liberating and enchanting, and you live moments out of a storybook because there’s nothing to hold you back.”
Last week, with rare time off, “I was on a camel in the Saharan desert,” Gardot says. For her next destination, she flipped a coin. “So in six days, I went to Lisbon, Madeira, London, Paris, Morocco and Casablanca,” she says.
Gardot, 25, will soon have six months of downtime to conceptualize her next album. But Buddhism has given her a plan. “I’ll explore some places I’ve never been, settle in for two months at a time in one city,” she says. “I’ll write a record around places that are calling me, now that I’ve traveled the globe!”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Thursday
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com