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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
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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She is a more smoother Billie Holiday!!!
The vocal style is so strikingly similar...sh e has a more smoother/sul t r y transition..
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Thats' Sensuality.. . . . .
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What a moving voice.....Pu r e senuality
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Man, I love Pandora so so so much! It introduces amazing artists that I've never heard of like Madeleine Peyroux. <3 I need to find more artists who made great music in the 90s!
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elollie
Que Bonita
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Saw Madeleine Peyroux at Ridgefield Playhouse last night (6/23/15). What an amazing voice live! And she is also very funny. Great band too.
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p2aguados
Great!!
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p2aguados
Great!!
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ckfraz
Me like!
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Voix enchanteress e Anewquisite.
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I love her version of Bob Dylan`s careless love, i just love her period
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Manhattan est belle!!
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chieftyee
Right...Skel l y and Rovi…Billie was a blues singer even though her renditions of dozens of standard songs are still are considered the most imitated versions of those songs.
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Wow! She has an amazing voice and a great talent, and I don't even speak French. This style of music is still fantastic. Keep up the good work, Madeleine! c:
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a happy morning
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itsme57us
I love her so much!! I would like to see her on tour!! Je t'aime Madelaine!! I can't wait for her next CD!!!!!
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@ bwilnow: me too
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Absolutely intoxicating I dont even know french but I love this music with a passion
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OK !!!!!!!!!
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Her version of Dance Me to the End is extraordinar y !
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Her song "smile" is truly revealing of the human condition.
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Your voice it's so sexy , all you can think is about Making Love!!!
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Willekin
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So great to get lost to! What a great voice And her phrasing is beautiful!!
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She just moves me ...
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smooth as silk, but real as an empty glass stare when the man says Last call for alcohol!
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LIKE ! ! !
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audeve
I'm in love with this angel's voice!
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Very unique version of this song!! Amazing :)
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dscissorhand s
Great song
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Lovely voice.
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Oh wow!! THIS IS THE NUTS!!
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Sempre piacevole ! Grazie !
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reenasax

alex_g0_01
Say iPhone 5 times say a color post this on 5 different songs look under your pillow
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lawpete49
I love Her. I thought she was Billie!!!!
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So so sexy. Makes me want to dance
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Love This Song
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When I first heard this I thought I was listening to some obscure Billy Holiday song...
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joe001filak
cool and refreshing
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Simply Great!
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barbaras1950
Dance Me top the End of Time, Maddie!
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She is perfect for homework and an evening in. Beautiful voice, and infinitely pleasant.
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She has a wonderful voice..I can hear a little Josephine Baker/ Billie Holiday style in this song.
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Just love her singing.
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The character of her voice is so like Lady Day. But she brings a modern sensibility to that sound. She's terrific!
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Madeleine Peyroux , MAGNIFIQUE !
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nice stuff
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She's just terrific as herself, there's no need to compare her to Lady Day.
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When I first heard her, I thought it was a digital remix of an older Billie Holiday recording. She has an awesome voice of her own but so similar.
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i love how the feelings she produces get you lost in her music
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