Last updated Jan. 1, 2007
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.

Madeleine 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 her own. Time magazine pronounced the groundbreaking Dreamland "the most exciting, involving vocal performance by a new singer this year."

Madeleine, 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."

Careless Love on Rounder Records released in Sept. 2004, eight years after the release of Dreamland. Waiting that long to release her sophomore album is admittedly not a typical career move, but then Madeleine is not a typical artist.

Careless Love, produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin), will features songs as old as W. C. Handy's bluesy title track, popularized by Bessie Smith in the late 1920s, and others as recent as Elliott Smith's folky "Between the Bars." Madeleine also covers material as diverse as Hank Williams' "Weary Blues" and Leonard Cohen's "Dance Me to the End of Love."

Madeleine spent much of the time between Dreamland and Careless Love out of the public eye. But she never stopped singing, returning to her busking roots with street performances and club dates around the world from Los Angeles (to New Orleans to New York City) to Western Europe before being signed by Rounder Records in 2003.

Careless Love was a worldwide sales and critical success, putting Madeleine back on fame's fast track.

Madeleine's followed up Careless Love with Half the Perfect World, released Sept. 2006, again pairing Madeleine and producer Larry Klein. Half the Perfect World builds on and expands on the direction set with Careless Love, featuring a broad range of songwriters include Madeleine herself.

Parts exerpted from Rounder Records 2004 biography

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