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Madeleine Peyroux

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Athens, Georgia (1996 – present)

Madeleine Peyroux is a singer who was born in 1974 in Athens, Georgia, USA, and raised in New York City and Paris, France. She is noted for her vocal style, which is highly reminiscent of Billie Holiday. Madeleine also has qualities similar to Ella Fitzgerald. Though Peyroux may remind some listeners of Holiday, there are differences, and she has her own sense of phrasing and interpretation.

Peyroux started singing at the age of fifteen, when she discovered street musicians in the Latin Quarter in Paris. She joined a group called the Riverboat Shufflers, first passing round the hat, and then singing. At sixteen she joined the The Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band, spending two years touring Europe performing songs by the likes of Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and others, which provided the basis for her first album, Dreamland.

Dreamland was released in 1996, and gained widespread attention. Time called it “the most exciting, involving vocal performance by a new singer this year”. Dreamland, is a brilliant recording, as Peyroux’s distinctive voice is not hindered by overly intricate arrangements. Most of the accompaniment on the record is light and sparse, the way it should be for a singer with such a unique voice. Peyroux soon found herself opening for Sarah McLachlan and Cesária Évora, and made appearances at jazz festivals and on the Lilith Fair tour.

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