Is this what they mean by "differently abled?"
June 29, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Melody Gardot was a New York fashion student, until a hit-and-run driver left her disabled and in need of therapy—musical therapy.

The 19 year old had been a piano player, but a broken pelvis made sitting at the piano impossible. Undeterred, she learned to play the guitar and began to write and sing. What began as a way to reconstruct the topology of her brain culminated in an EP.

Now 22, despite being unable to walk without a cane, sit without a special chair, view bright light without dark glasses, or manage pain without a TENS device, she has recorded two full-length albums of beautiful, soulful music.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism (32 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

In retrospect, I think I wrote this post with a little too much emphasis on her disability. Allow me to atone for that by saying that the way I found out about her was when one of her songs came on my car's satellite radio . I arrived at my destination in the middle of it (I'm not clear on how, as I was completely immersed in the music), but was completely unable to exit the vehicle until she had wrapped up her final, lingering, spine-tingling note. I was completely sold before I read a word of her story.

From someone who is not easily impressed: listen to Melody Gardot.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I recently stumbled across a winner of a track for her, "Your Heart Is As Black As Night." It's ominous, torchy, and ambiguous. One of the few CDs anymore I was inspired to buy from radioplay. Bam! into the Amazon cart the disc went, just as soon as I could match up the garbled name the DJ gave, scratched down on my arm, with something in Google; hearing anything else before buying would just spoil the fun. My One and Only Thrill also has a very solid cover of "Over the Rainbow." I was not disappointed.
posted by adipocere at 11:52 AM on June 29, 2009

This is a fantastic post, I did not know her music. Thanks so much!!
posted by LooseFilter at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2009

Listening to Worrisome Heart on now.
posted by Xoebe at 11:58 AM on June 29, 2009

Hang on, did she really not know she could sing (like this) before her accident and starting music therapy?

Doesn't matter, I guess, since she clearly knows what she's doing. Her voice - and even more importantly, her phrasing - are just exquisite. Thank you so much for the post!
posted by rtha at 12:00 PM on June 29, 2009

Interesting story and great music. Thanks, Mr. A.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:01 PM on June 29, 2009

Hang on, did she really not know she could sing (like this) before her accident and starting music therapy?

There are a lot of people with amazing voices who don't know they can sing because they were taught badly as kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2009

You know, I'm really excited about people like Melody. Of course, she's a talented artist with a disability in one of my favorite genres. At the same time, she's one of the few musicians I've seen with a physical disability beyond the senses expressing sensuality. I'm pleased she's getting this kind of exposure, and I look forward to the slow, gradual breakdown of the disability/desirability wall.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:08 PM on June 29, 2009

(And I smiled a little at the reflexive atonement...on behalf of us, I pardon you, Mr. A.)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 12:12 PM on June 29, 2009

Baby I'm A Fool was really good.
posted by chunking express at 12:27 PM on June 29, 2009

Wow. I really like her music. Her voice is magic for me.
posted by bz at 12:43 PM on June 29, 2009

Oooh, smooth, feelingful voice!
posted by nickyskye at 12:47 PM on June 29, 2009

This video is not available in your country due to copyright restrictions.
posted by slater at 1:15 PM on June 29, 2009

There are a lot of people with amazing voices who don't know they can sing because they were taught badly as kids.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:03 PM on June 29 [+] [!]

This. Especially as children, there is a certain separation between the kid playing the instrument and the audience. There's a more distinct appreciation for the craft and gradual nature of skill on an external instrument, whereas singing, especially as a child, is intensely personal and usually regarded at that age as an innate gift. This can make untrained vocalists with immense potential and talent much more reticent about attemping a piece than, in my case, a guitarist who can excuse mistakes as having only studied the piece in question for a short period of time.

It takes great courage to sing without training because you love to, and I think that indicates a pretty significant difference in perspective on what makes a great singer vs. a great instrumentalist. I fear we lose a lot of undeveloped vocal talent to that stigma.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:29 PM on June 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

Nice stuff. Very Adele-ish.

As an aside, I love it when someone posts some new musician to the blue, who's available on rhapsody, so I can immediately start sending them my penny-per-play for their streaming rights. I wonder if they get enough buzz to notice a change in their average royalties for a month.
posted by nomisxid at 1:43 PM on June 29, 2009

This is excellent. 99% of the time consciously "soulful" singing like this rings absolutely false for me (cf Winehouse, Amy), but Melody seems like she is the real deal.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:49 PM on June 29, 2009

I like it a lot. Thanks for the introduction Mr. Anthropomorphism.
posted by slimepuppy at 1:55 PM on June 29, 2009

What? Amy Winehouse is great.
posted by chunking express at 1:56 PM on June 29, 2009

What? Amy Winehouse is great.

posted by adamdschneider at 2:04 PM on June 29, 2009

Also, Melody Gardot is a name that feels destined for jazz.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2009

Great singer. Great story. Great post. Thanx.
posted by dancestoblue at 2:12 PM on June 29, 2009

I had the absolute pleasure of catching her at the Philadelphia Folk Festival back in '05 or '06, and then again at the Kennedy Center in '07. Certainly one of the best female jazz singers/guitarists I've ever seen, and damned if the hat and glasses don't make for the coolest stage presence since Fred "I don't play no rock and roll" McDowell.
posted by The White Hat at 2:42 PM on June 29, 2009

Mr. A., Since you didn't want to focus on the disability, and found yourself in the car listening to the end of the song, a better title would have been, "Waiting for Gardot."

Are you pulling the biographical data from the first video? Listened to the songs first, on that one now.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:52 PM on June 29, 2009

The cynical, everyday "Regular Joe" side of me saw this and thought "Oh good, another New York fashion designer who has entered therapy" but then I actually listened to the stuff and, y'know, it's pretty good, and good for her.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:39 PM on June 29, 2009

Thank you so much! I heard "Who Will Comfort Me" in the car (thanks, WWOZ) but had to get out before they announced who it was. Now I know. Hooray!
posted by honeydew at 4:04 PM on June 29, 2009

If you are in europe you might want to check out her myspace page instead, given that the youtube links posted don't work.
posted by JeNeSaisQuoi at 5:20 PM on June 29, 2009

Sorry, majority of the world!
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 5:22 PM on June 29, 2009

Wow. I knew nothing of this woman before this post. Thank you, Mr. Anthropomorphism!
posted by katillathehun at 6:03 PM on June 29, 2009

I thought this was going to be about ACTUAL music therapy and I was going to come in here and tell you all about my most recent ex who was a music therapist and who would regularly feel the need to weep openly at music that made him feel emotional one way or another - usually based somewhere around the betrayal he felt due to his mother's emotional absence during his childhood due to depression - but since this thread isn't about that I won't mention it.
posted by greekphilosophy at 6:03 AM on June 30, 2009

I actually bought her second album on my iPhone while waiting for the bus. We live in the future. It's good.
posted by chunking express at 10:40 AM on June 30, 2009

Awesome music! I would never have known she had any sort of disability since so many Jazz musicians wear sunglasses on stage nowadays. I doubt I have any sort of hidden talent that was rubbed away by music teaching early on, but she has totally inspired to play a little more piano this summer, and maybe, just maybe, whip out my bassoon.
posted by bluefly at 7:06 AM on July 1, 2009

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