@ the Royal Festival Hall
14 November 2009
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Madeleine Peyroux (pronounced like the country Peru)
was born in Athens, Georgia; she grew up between Brooklyn, Southern
California and Paris, though it was in the City of Light where she
found her voice. As a teen she was drawn to street music, and in
1989 she started to perform with a group of buskers. She then joined
the Lost Wandering Blues & Jazz Band, becoming the only female
in the group, which toured around Europe for several years.
Peyroux burst onto the recording scene in 1996, with her stunning
debut album Dreamland. Madeleine was greeted with a veritable torrent
of gushing reviews. Most raved about her smoke-and-whiskey vocals,
often comparing her to the late, great Billie Holiday. Others wondered
how someone so young could perform classic songs by Holiday, Bessie
Smith and Patsy Cline so convincingly as to make them sound like
Peyroux, then an American who had been living in Paris as a street
musician, suddenly found herself on the fast track to fame. Appearances
at Lilith Fair and jazz festivals, and opening tours for Sarah McLachlan
and Cesaria Evora followed, while Dreamland’s sales reached
an impressive 200,000 copies worldwide.
“It was great,” recalls Madeleine. “I got to
perform with fantastic musicians. I got to see Nina Simone live.
I could've kept running with it, but instead I stepped back and
took a breather.”