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Madeleine Peyroux

Vocalist Madeleine Peyroux can best be thought of as a Billie Holiday for the 1990s. Like Holiday, Peyroux was marketed as a jazz singer, when what she seems to do best is sing blues music. Though Peyroux may remind some listeners of Holiday, there are differences; she has her own sense of phrasing and interpretation. Her 1996 Atlantic Records debut, Dreamland, is a brilliant recording, as Peyroux's distinctive voice is not hindered by overly intricate arrangements. Most of the accompaniment on the record is light and sparse, the way it should be for a singer with such a unique voice. Her debut album features a cast of top players from the New York jazz scene, including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Leon Parker, guitarists Vernon Reid and Marc Ribot, and saxophonist/clarinetist James Carter.

Peyroux was born in Athens, Georgia, and raised between Southern California, Brooklyn, and Paris. She began singing at age 15, when she discovered the Latin Quarter in Paris and became enamored with several street musicians. By 1989, she was working with a group of musicians called the Riverboat Shufflers, and after working for a while as a hat passer for the group, she began singing with them. She then joined the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band at age 16, spending the next couple of years touring Europe while holding college in abeyance. That group formed the basis for her first album, for they performed the songs of Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, early Ella Fitzgerald, and others.

Though Dreamland was by no means a straight-ahead jazz album, Peyroux and her producers take a thoroughly modern approach to blues tunes from the 1920s and '30s. She interprets songs like Fats Waller's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," Billie Holiday's "Gettin' Some Fun Out of Life," as well as tunes popularized by Bessie Smith, like "Reckless Blues" and "Lovesick Blues." But unlike Smith or Holiday, who weren't known as songwriters, Peyroux also recorded three of her own tunes on Dreamland, "Always a Use" (on which she accompanies herself on guitar), "Hey Sweet Man," and "Dreamland."

It took another eight years, however (the reasons for which were never very clear), for her follow-up, Careless Love, to hit shelves. This time working with producer Larry Klein on Rounder Records, Peyroux explored a more contemporary and eclectic mix of covers, including Elliott Smith's "Between the Bars," Bob Dylan's "You're Going to Make Me Lonesome," and older songs like Hank Williams' "Weary Blues." It was very well-received and made the 2006 release of Half the Perfect World, again a combination of covers and originals, highly anticipated. The record, which featured a duet with k.d. lang, included versions of songs by Serge Gainsbourg and Tom Waits, among others. Peyroux's third Rounder release was 2009's Bare Bones, her first to feature all original compositions by Peyroux (some shared with co-writers), was greeted with favorable reviews and was followed by an international tour. Peyroux took some time off, and emerged in 2011 with a download single that foreshadowed Standing on the Rooftop, her debut for the Decca imprint. The digital-only single offered a restrained yet elegant cover of the Beatles' "Martha My Dear," and the original "The Things I've Seen Today," co-written with violinist Jenny Scheinman. Standing on the Rooftop, released in June of 2011, was produced by Craig Street, and featured a core band of guitarists Marc Ribot and Chris Bruce, bassist Me'Shell Ndegeocello, and drummer Charlie Drayton. There were guest appearances by Patrick Warren and Allen Toussaint, among others. Peyroux wrote or co-wrote eight of the album's 12 songs; the covers included the aforementioned Beatles' tune, Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away," and Robert Johnson's "Love in Vain," as well as a the W.H. Auden poem "Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love," set to music by Ribot. Peyroux's next album, The Blue Room, utilized the inspiration of Ray Charles' revolutionary Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music as a template. It revisited some tracks from that album but also employed more contemporary material. Featuring the singer backed by a stellar studio group and occasional strings, it was released by Decca in 2013. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

richrf01
Go baby go ....
Sounds like music you hear down the street and walk towards at 0230
Great blues artist - sexy voice
rseeleyco
ahhhhhhhhhhh h h h h h h . . . .
Minnie Riperton,to me...but cool.....
I love, love, love Madeleine Peyroux. Her voice automaticall y calms me down, no matter how I am feeling at the time. She is magic!
jafe7
Beautiful voice. Strange that songwriting credits for 'Smile' do not include Charlie Chaplin...
nelson smillson madie your voice can make anything new and beautifu; love and peace from mark l
mad4tunes
I love Till Bronner's trumpet work on this album.
dave5962
I love the fact that Peyroux has established a signature sound that identifies her immediately -- that steady beat, usually it seems with rhythm guitars. I think it takes courage to maintain that on record after record. I love it.
c'est vraiment cool agreable a ecouter et beaucoup de talent.
inspire9240
better when she's not sounding like Billie
Feal in love the first time I heard that great voice
merci
C'est ci bon n'est pas?
Nice.
Perfect!
Definitely a Holiday style, but there is a lilt in her smoky voice that captures you.
Damn I don't want her stop! Can't get out of my truck.
allief70
like music that features the violin, piano, soothing guitar, flute
I mean Conzumel
Wonderful muisic! Wonderful singer!. I ofen wonder why God gives us so many wonderful Things. But and 86 & still in good health and living at home. I wonder why?? Thanks God I was raised int the 20s, 30s & 40s. Enjoy such music people enjoy the memories.... . . .
I discovered Madeleine when I heard her album played on Public Radio,and fell madly in LOVE! I adore blues and obviously, so does she.
She writes many of the songs herself; she is an all around super
musician!
Wow! Incredible, where have you been Madeleine?
yadoramajor
I don't really get why most jazz or blues singers are compared to ella, sarah, or bille. Each singer has thier own distinct voice..... still I love it all just the same
1012305736
You are a very cruel person. What comes around....
1012305736
Please leave me alone Katy....
omg
brandongeorg e 9 9
Great singer and sexy tone! Damn, I feel like making a baby.....
I got goosebumps'. . . w o w what a voice!
who plays trumpet on Smile?!
jcollon5 has been sniffing too many bicycle seats!
Just heard Smile... who's the awesome breathy trumpet solist?
mtvyfan
I like the Josephine Baker version of J'ai Deux Amours better, but it's nice.
jcollom5
dont read this because it actually works. You will get kissed on the nearest possible friday by the love of your life. tommorrow will be the best day of your life. however if you do not post this comment to at least 3 songs you will die in 2 days. now youve started reading this so dont stop. this is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in at least 143 minutes when if done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is scary cuz it actually works
mtvyfan
Lovely voice, but not like Billie Holliday, more like Ella Fitzgerald. Billie had a more grittier sound and Madeleine is more light and fluffy like Ella was.
Beautiful voice! I'm so tired of Adel...give me her & Renee Specktor instead.
gcosta21
Similar to the lead singer of Squirrel Nut Zippers.
The trumpet in this song is beautiful.
jeff.miami.w a d e
What a gifted voice !!! It's almost as if the spirit of Billie Holiday resides in Madeleine !! Wonderful !!
She's amazing. Thank you Pandora, for bringing another great artist to my attention!
Wow.... I thought zooey was the only present day artist that sounded like she was from the 40's but madeleine is amazing.... Wow.. I
Awesome ... So smooth
vtdryrot
My go to music when I want to listen in the dark without any distractions .
Holy crap. I thought she was Billie Holiday for months. Mind=Blown
CLOUDSTAR
This is why I love Pandora, stumbling upon the unknowns like her, breathes life ..into ....me...
sets such a great mood
There's only ONE Billie Holiday. Let's hear some originality
lovely
I'm not sure i can wait for that June of 10011 release, poor marketing IMO.
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