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Melody Gardot's addicted to music
IF music is a drug, Melody Gardot will happily say she's addicted to it.
The Grammy-nominated jazz-crossover singer-songwriter was only 19 when she was hit by a car in 2003 and suffered serious head and spinal injuries which left her confined to a hospital bed for a year.
Her subsequent road to recovery - which involved re-learning things like brushing her teeth and walking - would have made a compelling biopic and the amazing results are there to see in her new release, Live at the Olympia Paris.
Filmed last October, it finds the Philadelphia native grooving energetically with her band for close to two hours, switching between guitar and piano, and playing songs from her four albums including her latest Currency of Man (2015), as well as her breakthrough My One and Only Thrill (2009).
Her sassy stage moves is a far cry from that of Gardot performing at the Esplanade in Singapore in 2010, when she still needed a walking stick to move around.
"I'm now stronger than I ever been even though it was only in the last year I could walk minimally without a cane," she purrs in her husky voice over the phone from Paris last month, "It's still a long road (to recovery but) I don't believe that you have to stay in the same state. I still can't run but over the years, I've learnt to hold a microphone again."
Music played a big part in the 31-year-old's rehabilitation and it was during her time in the hospital that she picked up the guitar and ventured into songwriting, even though she has been performing and playing the piano since nine.
Her doctors were amazed how much that aided Gardot in her recovery and she has since gone on to establish The Chateaux Gardot Music Therapy Program at The NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute (NMI) at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine in New Jersey.
Its primary objectives are to provide music therapy to patients suffering from pain and to incorporate music into the care of neuromuscular patients and patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.
Till today, she says there is nothing like losing herself in music to help her forget any sort of pain - both physically and emotionally - that she might be experiencing.
"The pain becomes small when I get on stage," Gardot says. "It's about telling the pain to move aside and music does that because it's the best drug in the world."
Live at the Olympia Paris - which features some of her best known hits like Same To You, Baby I'm A Fool, Who Will Comfort Me, Preacherman, Les Etoiles and She Don't Know - is Gardot's first ever concert release even though she has been meaning to put one out for the longest time.
"Every gig is different for me and this is a nice mark of where (I am musically) at the moment," she explains.
The setlist's heavier emphasis on songs off Currency of Man shows off a R&B-soul edge not heard on her earlier albums. In fact, the main set closer Preacherman and encore of It Gonna Come - both off the new record - turn into extended funk jams, thanks to the extended horn section.
Wearing her trademark sunglasses on stage because she is still hyper-sensitive to light due to the accident, Gardot who is a friend of luxury watch and jewellery brand Piaget, also looks fashionably chic dressed head-to-toe in black.
Asked about it, she laughs and says: "I actually have a more masculine approach now because I'm on tour with 14 guys!"
- Melody Gardot's Live at the Olympia Paris is out now on both physical and digital formats. DVDs and Blu-rays are available at selected Popular Bookstores (CD-RAMA).