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Madeleine Peyroux is a modern jazz singer and songwriter whose dusky voice and intimate intonations draw frequent comparisons to Billie Holiday. Her albums and live repertoire feature beloved jazz and blues standards, to which Peyroux adds a contemporary feel, as well as original songs influenced by modern pop as much as the traditional jazz canon. The singer's French-American heritage and the honing of her sound and style while living in both countries also add a discernible worldliness to Peyroux's vibe. A Madeleine Peyroux tour promises to take audiences on an audible journey back to the heyday of vocal jazz, while also showcasing an incarnation of the genre that's thoroughly modern.
Born in Georgia, but raised in California, New York and Paris, Madeleine Peyroux cites these diverse environments, along with the popular music of each era of her formative years, as strong influences on her musical style. Among them are the New Orleans jazz of her father's record collection, the Michael Jackson and Madonna pop hits of her childhood, her discovery of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, and later the singing and songwriting prowess of Tracy Chapman. It was witnessing the street performers of Paris' Latin Quarter, though, that inspired Peyroux to pursue jazz singing as a vocation. She would soon be touring Europe, performing jazz standards with the ragtag Lost & Wandering Blues & Jazz Band, while still a teen.
In 1996, Peyroux released her debut album, Dreamland. Its tracklist crosses genres and eras, featuring songs by Fats Waller and Bessie Smith, plus three originals. Time magazine called it "the most exciting, involving vocal performance by a new singer this year."
Her long-awaited sophomore effort, 2004's Careless Love, includes a diverse range of covers, including tracks by Hank Williams and Elliott Smith, along with classic jazz and acoustic blues numbers. The album was certified gold in the U.S. It was especially popular in the U.K., where it reached No. 7 on the album charts.
Half the Perfect World (2006) features more jazz standards, plus covers of songs by Tom Waits and Serge Gainsbourg, and a duet with k.d. lang covering Joni Mitchell's "River." The album reached No. 33 on the Billboard 200. In 2007, Peyroux won Best International Jazz Artist at the BBC Jazz Awards.
Peyroux followed the success of her first three records with a series of well-selling albums. For 2009's Bare Bones, Peyroux co-wrote all 11 original tracks and was rewarded with the No. 1 spot on the Billboard jazz chart. A career highlight came when her 2013 Ray Charles-inspired album, The Blue Room, was nominated for a Grammy Award.