CULTURE

Madeleine Peyroux opens up ahead of visit

Madeleine Peyroux is not one to hide behind words. I spoke to the American jazz singer on the telephone one night in October, ahead of an appearance in the Greek capital scheduled by the acclaimed singer to promote her new album on Saturday, November 5, at the Athens Concert Hall. She was in the mood to open up, show how down-to-earth she is, and confess that she is worried and that her music is not meant to bring us down on purpose.

Her concert will feature original work from her new album ?Standing on the Rooftop,? as well as covers of songs by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams, as well as the Beatles. Melancholy is apparent throughout, and is also a component of her life.

Now aged 37, the woman who began singing on the streets of Athens, Georgia at age 15 and went on to take her songs to Brooklyn, California and Paris has nothing to prove to anyone.

Where are you now?

I?m in Wisconsin, getting ready to play the university campus tomorrow. It is a precious thing to be able to travel, though the truth is that I rarely get to see the places I visit. What I like is to mix with the people, to get lost. The more diverse the audience, the better.

Yet you still enjoy traveling.

Every trip has its challenges. I like to look for the poetry in everything, even though I often only see little more than the airport runway. I?ve come to Greece three times and have not had a chance to climb up to the Acropolis or visit its new museum.

What has changed since your last visit to Greece?

You need to sense change if you want to feel one with the world. The world has changed. People know what is going on around them; they don?t have any illusions. Everyone is thinking about money, talking dollars and euros.

Is music a luxury?

Not everyone can go to a concert, for purely practical reasons, in difficult times. I know that at my concerts many people in the audience have made a sacrifice to be there. We need to keep that in mind and be grateful for everything we do. I try to speak to the audience about what they are going through; I can?t live in a bubble.

Do you use social networking sites as a tool for your work?

I?m interested in communication. Online communication, through blogs, can be interesting. But I would rather take the university of life, however over-the-top that sounds. It is easy for me to say that because I?ve been lucky. However, I have tried to have some kind of presence on the Internet. I always read my messages. I have nothing to do with Twitter. I don?t think my life is so exciting that I need to post an update every three minutes.

There are times when you seem to drop off the map. Do you still experience the need to get away from it all?

I read an interview recently with Tony Bennett, in which he was asked what the hardest moment in career was. He said, ?One day I began to think about it, and instead of talking I began to cry.? If an artist like Tony Bennett can admit that, then so can I. There are times when you don?t even feel human. You can?t remember where you are, who you are.

From Athens GA to Athens GR

Born in Athens, Georgia in 1974, singer-songwriter and guitarist Madeleine Peyroux grew up between Brooklyn and Southern California before ending up in Paris, where, as a teenager, she was drawn to street music.

In the late 80s, Peyroux started performing with a group of buskers, subsequently joining the Lost Wandering Blues