Sidney’s Mary Winspear Swings opens its doors to jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux

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The Mary Winspear Center in Sidney is preparing to welcome for the first time in its history one of the greatest voices of contemporary jazz, Madeleine Peyroux, on November 11. In fact, the occasion is so good that she will do it twice, playing Sidney for a second night on November 12.

Peyroux knows Greater Victoria well, having performed at the Victoria Jazz Festival at least half a dozen times by his own account. “I got kicked out of a bar there once,” she said. Peyroux, meanwhile, no longer remembers in which bar and for what reasons. “It was near the theater and I think what was going on, I was having an intense conversation with someone from the group and the bouncer just didn’t like me. But I really didn’t like him either, then I might have said something to him The bouncer was a really, really tall, blonde, massive person and I don’t know what it was, but I guess he thought I was trying to argue or something like that and he just fired me.

Peyroux arrives in Sydney with a worldwide audience won thanks to his biography. Born in Athens, Georgia, Peyroux spent part of her teenage years in Paris, where she eventually found herself performing as a street musician following in the footsteps of Edith Piaf who Peyroux has cited as an influence. This musical course across the Atlantic also places Peyroux on the long list of famous jazz musicians of American origin dating from the First World War who made the City of Light their home. Although she didn’t have much time to spend in Paris on the recent European leg of her tour, it’s now part of her. “Paris is magical because of the people and the culture, so you just want to be part of it,” she said. “Just being there is huge.”

Peyroux also ranked his recent Parisian show among his best concerts in Paris. “I was very proud of it. It was a moving experience, very intimate. One of the reasons was to be able to perform three songs in French, including his rendition of the poem Liberty, which Paul Eluard had written and air-distributed at his own risk during the Nazi occupation.

While this poem has become a collective cultural landmark in France, it has also taken on personal meaning for Peyroux, who became aware of it after a close family friend asked him to contribute a song to a documentary detailing the story of his son facing Duchenne. muscular dystrophy. Luckily, she stayed and performed very close to this family, whom she was then able to visit for a few hours.

Peyroux’s interpretation of Eluard’s poetry speaks to his broad artistic sensibility. The New Yorker described his music as a “spellbinding mix of Billie Holiday sass and country and western spunk” and while Peyroux’s music spans genres, so do his cover and collaborator choices. They include not only the canon of North American jazz and French chanson, but also country standards, Bob Dylan covers and Beatles songs as well as works by lesser known but highly influential musicians like the late Rainer Ptacek.

Over the years she has worked with former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, hip-hop artist Meshell Ndegeocello and the late Cesaria Evora, the queen of Morna, a melancholy style of music that emerged from Cape Verde.

Like so many musicians, Peyroux is catching up on touring following the COVID-19 pandemic. During the European leg of her tour, Peyroux not only played in France and Spain, but also in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, where she and her bandmates had drinks at the Liverpool pub, which John Lennon once cited as the one thing he lacked. his old house.

“It’s a very old building with a lot of very ornate, dark wooden, cigar-smoking rooms,” she said. “They had a rock and roll band playing there. Everyone we met was an absolute dream, jolly and it wasn’t an exclusive feeling at all. It was a very special evening. »

Peyroux hopes to deliver exactly that when she performs in Sidney, where she plays her careless love full album, plus half a dozen new songs, which she has yet to record. It can also receive requests. “I’m just grateful to be playing live. It is such an important and intimate experience. I feel like when a group of strangers get together in a room and enjoy something that inspires and inspires them, it makes the world a better place every time.

For more information, see marywinspear.ca/event/madeleine-peyroux.


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