Madeleine Peyroux Biography

1974, Athens, Georgia, USA. A precocious contemporary jazz singer, Madeleine Peyroux was first spotted singing in a Greenwich Village bar in New York, USA, by Atlantic Records Vice President of A&R, Yves Beauvais, in the early 90s. By the advent of her debut album in 1996, Peyroux had already spent much of her young life as a busker and club performer, working principally in Paris and Amsterdam with the Great Lost Wandering Blues And Jazz Band. By this time her uncanny similarity in phrasing and technique to Billie Holiday had already been widely commented upon. This led to Beauvais’ advice to Peyroux that, for someone with a voice so similar to Holiday’s, a straight jazz debut could prove injurious to her career. Instead, Dreamland was more obviously themed around blues and roots music. As Beauvais told Billboard magazine in 1996: ‘I don’t even consider Dreamland a jazz record, just a very eclectic bunch of songs in a variety of settings.’ The final selection of tracks included ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ (Patsy Cline), ‘La Vie En Rose’ (Edith Piaf) and ‘Reckless Blues’ (Bessie Smith). The musicians involved ranged from mainstream jazz figures to representatives of other traditions, including James Carter (saxophone), Cyrus Chestnut (piano) and Marc Ribot (guitar). The producer was Greg Cohen, well known within the music industry for his work with Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and John Zorn.

The publicity shy Peyroux then returned to busking in Paris and largely disappeared from the public eye, although she continued to play regular club dates around the world. Peyroux’s second album did not appear until nearly nine years later, but proved to be well worth the wait. Produced by Larry Klein, Careless Love featured subtly inspired reworkings of songs by Leonard Cohen (‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’), Bob Dylan (‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go’), and Hank Williams (‘Weary Blues’). The album was particularly successful in Europe and the UK, drawing in new fans and making steady progress up the charts.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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