Melody Gardot: Being present in ‘The Absence’

Melody Gardot shows off a few of her things.

Melody Gardot doesn’t live out of a suitcase. She lives out of three. Not just when she’s traveling — which is much of the time — but that’s it: That’s all her stuff. It’s not about minimalism; it’s about space for life rather than space for stuff, a theme that’s at the root of her latest record, “The Absence.”  
“There’s a notion that absence is lonely, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Gardot. “I’ve spent so much time in Portugal in recent years; I’m always coming and going so often that someone told me that it’s like I never leave. I’m never really absent. My memory is there.”

It’s a nothing-isn’t-empty theory that the 27-year-old jazz singer and songwriter thinks holds true in music: “Sometimes when you don’t fill up by playing every note, the music is more beautiful and often has more value.”

Gardot says that for now she has every material thing she needs.

“I am a practicalist,” says the singer, who grew up in Philly. “I have one jacket for the cold, one for the rain, shoes that are closed, shoes that are open. My essentials are a bit more than they would be on a desert island. But that’s because I have to get ready for shows.”

Another bonus to not having a home is not having household chores.

“I definitely don’t like to clean the house. The good thing about living in a hotel is that you go out and come back later and someone’s cleaned your room.”

Finding therapy in the kitchen

One thing Gardot misses about not having a home is cooking. She says that eating a macrobiotic, organic diet helped her body heal after an accident in 2003 — she was hit by a car whose driver shot through a red light — left her with brain and spinal injuries. “When I come off the road, the first thing I look for is a place to go where I can cook. I love to cook. It’s the most therapeutic way to recover.”


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