Melody Gardot has international appeal

Courtesy PhotoWorld music: Melody Gardot’s latest recording “The Absence” was created during visits to Brazil

By now, it’s common jazz knowledge: the tale of classy singer Melody Gardot, who, after being broadsided by a Jeep while bicycling through Philadelphia in 2003, suffered neurological damage that affected her movement, short-term recall and sensitivity to light and sound. Bedridden, she began writing supine songs that first became music therapy, then her official, Peggy-Lee-smoky 2008 debut, “Worrisome Heart.” Despite chronic pain, nothing has slowed her since. Her new fado-samba-bossa-nova-inspired set, “The Absence,” was conceived (then co-written with film-composer-guitarist Heitor Pereira) during long, culture-immersive stays in Brazil, Portugal, Morocco and Argentina.

#link_box { width: 150px; height: auto; margin: 0; padding: 0; margin: 10px 20px 10px 0px; padding: 10px; background-color: #fbfade; /* ecru – light yellow */ border: 1px solid #343a25; /* green – for summer arts */ float: left; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; } #link_box img, #link_box a { border 0px; border-style: none; outline: none; } #link_box h1 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #8A0808; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; } #link_box h2 { margin: 0; padding: 5px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; text-transform: none; color: #000; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 10px; text-align: center; } #link_box ul { list-style: none; margin: 0; padding: 0; border: none; } #link_box li { margin: 0px padding: 0px; border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; } #link_box li a { display: block; padding: 5px 5px 5px 15px; /* Padding for bullet */ /* border-bottom: 1px solid #ddd; border-bottom-width: 1px; */ color: #000; width: 100%; width: auto; /* height: auto; */ /* border: 1px solid blue; */ margin: 0px; font-family: arial, sans serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 14px; text-decoration: none; } #link_box li a: before { /* background-position: top left; */ } #link_box li a:hover { background-color: #ddd; color: #000; }

Your speaking voice actually has an unusual European accent now. Have you noticed this?

Well, I’m speaking French, English, Spanish and Portuguese, so my brain tends to go through mechanical meltdown. I’m in Paris now, and I was trying to speak to somebody today, and it went screech, bam! It couldn’t compute anything that was happening, and it started speaking in Spanish. I wasn’t even speaking English for five months, because in Lisbon, there was no one to speak English to.

How hard was it to master all these languages?

As a musician, I have an unfair advantage, because it’s like music. If you listen to a song like “Sodade” from Caesaria Evoria, eventually you can sing the words just like she does. And if you look at them on paper, and someone explains to you how the language shifts, you’ll have a gentle introduction to the way the words fall from the tongue. So you’re just repeating — it’s like being a mockingbird.

How inspiring was Portugal?

The music there is amazing, and there’s not just one kind. In Lisbon, you encounter fado, which has been spoon-fed to the tourists almost like the tango in Argentina. But the real sounds are harder to find — you have to go to places where you wouldn’t be told to go, like up north. But if you open your windows anywhere from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., you’ll hear everyone singing in a cafe, singing the same words they sang 100 years ago. Everyone knows the words because they keep passing them on — not by the radio, but by the musicians.

You’re not afraid to travel the world alone?

No. That’s my responsibility. And as a performer, it’s your job to arrive with humility and grace to the places where you’ve been asked to go. So I think it’s important to say hello, thank you and goodbye and exchange conversation with people in their native language, as well as understand their customs, rather than disrespect them by staying encased in the ways of your Western world.

artsentertainmentMelody GardotmusicPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Union threatens legal action after Police Commission expands use-of-force policy

San Francisco’s police union is pursuing legal action after the Police Commission… Continue reading

City Attorney seeks to recoup ‘illegal profits’ gained by Walter Wong through city contracts

San Francisco will seek to recover “illegal profits” gained by well-known permit… Continue reading

SF Police Commission votes to expand use-of-force policy

Decision to bypass union negotiations could set stage for litigation

Free Muni for Youth program expansion halted by SFMTA budget crisis

Low- and moderate-income kids can still travel for free

Newsom orders multiple counties to shut down bars, indoor restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on… Continue reading

Most Read