Friday, December 5, 2014

I like her voice. I would probably fight over a parking space with her never knowing her talent and unique voice by looking at her.  It takes me back to the days we always heard Nat King Cole on the radio and loved his smooth voice too. I never knew he was a black man not that that would have made a difference.  Back then we knew musicians for their musicianship not for any looks or gossip around them. I guess I am going way back. Now we know all kinds of personal stuff about artists that their craft is almost set aside to the gossip around them. Most stars thrive on the attention because once the paparazzi goes away, they are no longer a star. Madeline Peyroux is old school. She could care less about fame or fortune.

She has the smoky voice of a old black performer and not long ago she was an American in Paris singing on the streets for money. Now she performs on stage for blues fans around the world. Listen to her music and you will hear echo’s of women from another era. She can sound like Patsy Cline, Bessie Smith, Bob Dylan or  Edith Piaf but then there is the legend she is most compared too, Billy Holiday.  Like all the Frank Sinatra want a bees, she is not Billy. She is Madeline singing new songs just right. Her latest recording is a tribute to the red Ray Charles Album that was released 50 years ago. Her voice has just the right amount of sadness to make you want to notice her.

Madeline grew up in Georgia, the daughter of a college professor who struggled with depression and booze. When she was 11 her parents divorced and her mother was offered a job in Paris. All of a sudden she was an American in Paris. What was a wonderful new start for her Mom was a nightmare for Madeline who missed her school and friends and her country. Her Mom still lives in Paris. Madeline grew up in her teen years to be rebellious, dropped out of school, took drugs and booze.  She found happiness playing her guitar on the streets of Paris playing her guitar being homeless. She ran away from boarding schools too.
At age 15 she traveled to where the blues was. The music. Street musicians became her new family who pushed her to develop into a fine guitarist and stylist. Her Mother thought that music for Madeline was just teenage rebellion. One night of many nights she heard a young girl’s voice singing in a club Georgia On My Mind and thought the voice sounded great. When she realized it was Madeline she respected her little girl in a different way she used to think of her. A record company executive offered Madeline a record deal. Ever the contrarion she said no for a few years until she realized that she can only sing and play best in life. She had no other career.

It didn’t take long for critics to find her and since then she has released half a dozen albums. Now she spends much of her time on tour. Being the reluctant not flamboyant star, she retreats to a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. Now she spends most of her time in her house and not on the streets. She loved her freedom and loves her freedom now to not have to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

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