Cycling back to her home in Philadelphia, she was hit by a car jumping the red right.Her pelvis was shattered and she suffered severe head and spine injuries which left her unable to walk for two years.It's why the shades stay on – light hurts her eyes – and why she walks with the cane that has become part of her look on stage, performing as a jazz singer.Traumatic though it's been, if she talks so openly about the accident that's because she recognises that if it hadn't happened, she wouldn't be sitting here talking about getting to number 12 in the UK chart with her second album My One And Only Thrill, a seductive collection blending emotive, introspective jazz and blues, and travelling the world playing shows.
There's a famous line often attributed to Thelonious Monk: "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture." Writing about it isn't any easier, but I was so in love with Melody Gardot's voice before I'd learned a thing about her remarkable story that it literally stopped me in my tracks and sent me scrambling for pen and paper to write down the name of the singer on the radio who had so magnificently covered the Beatles' "Because." The first thing that hit me was the elegantly baroque flamenco-sounding vocal flourish that she tosses in before the first verse.When she performs at the London Jazz Festival this weekend, it will be the culmination of an impressive year that has also seen Gardot score a Mobo nomination. "It's the reason why I have joy now, but, more importantly, it's the reason why I am who I am.And all this because during her recovery, a doctor suggested music therapy could help reform the pathways between the neurons in her brain and improve her short-term memory. It's given me purpose and it's taken me around the world.We meet in her overheated hotel suite in Los Angeles.A raucous dinner was planned, but Gardot is feeling fragile.