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Melody Gardot an Extraordinary Chanteuse Opens the 2010 Central Park Summerstage Series

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volume 12 / Flickrvolume 12 / FlickrMelody Gardot is a tremendously talented singer. I discovered her music while listening to NPR earlier in the year (I am so glad I donated!) It was one of those moments when I found myself half listening to the radio and then suddenly the sound coming out of the radio had my full attention, so captivating is her voice.

Even above the clank and woosh of the washing machine, dogs barking in the yard and horns honking in the street, Melody Gardot’s voice rose effortlessly above the mundane and dissonant sounds of life. For the next few minutes I was under the spell of the deep smoky sound of her voice. I was stunned.

 
This young talent currently has two CDs, “Worrisome Heart” and “My One and Only Thrill.” After hearing her on the radio, I visited her website to see if she had tour dates in NYC. Initially when I visited the site it appeared Melody Gardot forsook performing in the states to sing to the throngs across the ocean. In the meantime I listened deeply to her songs on my way to work. To and fro rumbling along on the subway, her music for a time was all I would listen to. I learned every nuance of each song: from the light quiver in her voice she gently layers upon the words in her songs or the notes she pulls out long like a ribbon unfolding, to then spill into the next phrase as in “Our Love is Easy.” Sometimes after listening to her music, I would find that my eyes were wet with tears, an unconditional response to a sound so extraordinary beautiful.  Her interpretation of word and song, often accompanied with full orchestral arrangement is masterful and something to be admired.
 
About a month ago I visited her website and clicked on tour dates. And I was surprised and very excited to discover she would be the opening concert for the 2010 Central Park Sumerstage Series. On Tuesday June 2, with the threat of thunderous storms looming ominously overhead all day, I left work early and walked to Madison Ave to catch a bus uptown. I got off the bus at 68th Street, walked west to the park. I crossed 5th Ave and walked into Central Park. I was the fourth person on line by 5:15. The show was to begin at 7:00 and the gates were opening at 6:15. I was thrilled. 
 
A friend was meeting me and rain was threatening to make this a solo excursion for me. It sprinkled from time to time. Luckily, that is all the clouds gave was just a few sprinkles the whole evening and nothing more. I was able to get second row seats directly in front of where she would sing. My friend showed up and was equally thrilled by our wonderful seats.
Jazz Fest Wien team @ FlickrJazz Fest Wien team @ FlickrWith the New York Pops and her own crack trio, Melody Gardot sang her way to heaven with the audience in tow. She came on stage in a short gold-sequined dress, long bare milky colored arms with expressive hands, nails painted in vermillion swung like magic wands. Her shoes were gold satin pumps sitting atop four inch heels. They were as beautiful as was she. Her long blond hair stylishly swept over her one shoulder and her eyes peeped out from under blond bangs and her signature dark lensed glasses. 
 
She entered onto the stage like Grace Kelly, all glamour and poise. The only thing that gave away her brush with death was an elegant black cane that she lightly used to guide her into place. In 2003 while riding her bike Gardot was hit by a car. She was injured so badly it was feared she might die. She spent a year in the hospital recovering from all her injuries.  
 
For the next two hours she sang to an adoring audience. Her band loved her as much as we did. You could tell by the way they communicated with her, the body language was so subtle but so bold. It was impressive.   Melody Gardot’s voice is a special one, supple and strong in both the high and low end. She glides along the musical scale effortlessly. But what makes her singing truly wonderful is the way she sings a song. It is all emotion and heart, truly genuine. Melody Gardot is a chanteuse. Her performance rides on her voice and her power to evoke. She freely gives and lets her voice take us on a soulful and joyous journey. Talent pours from this woman. When she sings scat, her band members beam in bright smiles, revealing the thrill they get when they hear her make her magic. Jazz Fest Wien Team @ FlickrJazz Fest Wien Team @ Flickr
 
The best moment of the evening for me was when she sang "My One and Only Thrill." She took a seat at the piano then asked the audience to snap their fingers instead of clap at the end. She mentioned that this song was meant as a poem and then she nodded to the orchestra to begin. “My One and Only Thrill” is a love song of great depth because it begins and ends with a foreboding quality to the music and this sound lends a touch of sadness as Gardot sings of a fearless undying love.
 
The song is a paean to a lover; perhaps describing a love that was lost or never was. And because the song begins and ends on a minor note, it is also a lamentation. “My One and Only Thrill” is so emotionally packed because of the two conflicting themes taking place simultaneously: one, in the words declaring the power of her lover on her and two, in the underlying darkness created by the music that provides the framework for the song. As she neared the end of the song, with her voice filling the air, it was apparent that she was overcome with the same emotion so many of us experience who listen to her music. Great singers who are long gone would be proud of Melody Gardot and singers hereafter have to nod their head in admiration to the artistry and talent of this great singer.

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Melody in NYC

Hi Cynthia, Thanks for the review of the Central Park show. I still haven't seen a newspaper review for NYC or Boston. I'm a huge fan too, having first seen her on David Letterman with great performance of "Who Will Comfort Me". I'm going to see her in Toronto on June 9th. Only 322 seats in the theatre - so it should be an intimate affair. Take care, Doug Cornwall, Ontario

Thank you

Hi Doug, Thank you for your response. In a venue of only 322 seats, this is sure to be quite a show. With her voice filling the room and her kack for great repartee. You are in for a real treat. I will be thinking of you on June 9. Best, Cynthia

Melody in Toronto

Hi Cynthia, Hope you don't mind me adding my thoughts on Melody's Toronto show. Ms. Gardot truly is a star and exudes that quality in spades. She was thoroughly entertaining and the crowd was completely enthralled - by her music, her stellar band and by her witty repartee. Perhaps she should try her hand at stand-up comedy! She's naturally funny and engaging. Melody started the show with a dramatic take on "The Rain" - pulling at the strings inside her grand piano to simulate a thunderstorm. A lively, up-tempo "Worrisome Heart" had the house rocking a few songs later. The stand-out performance was "If The Stars Were Mine" - the evening's best amalgamation of musicianship, performance and exceptional vocal nuance. She closed the show with "Who Will Comfort Me" a fun call-and-response number with the crowd clapping and chanting "Oh Lord" in unison. A solid "Caravan" was the final number before an encore of "Summertime" and "Fever". Overall, a great show! -------------------------- A couple of observations: Melody did not wear her trademark "shaker" bracelet, though it was visible beside her piano stool. She also did not stomp her feet percussively as she is known to do during the up-tempo numbers - and she did not perform a second encore (i.e. "Over the Rainbow") Anyone familiar with her back-story would probably know why. DC

Thank you

Doug, Thanks for the update! Ms. Gardot is one hell of performer and I am glad the show was wonderful. It sounds like you enjoyed her as much as I did and no doubt everyone else who had a chance to see her in action. Again thank you, Cynthia

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