Melody Gardot, a performer with fans around the world, has a personal story full of tragedy and comeback. With Anthony Mason this morning we TAKE NOTE:
Her sultry voice has made Melody Gardot an international sensation. Her latest album, "My One and Only Thrill," has dazzled critics in the U.S., and sold more than half a million copies in Europe.
It's Number One on a key French chart this week . . . ahead of the Black Eyed Peas.
"What is it with you and the French?" Mason asked the singer.
"I'm glad that question is about France and not about a man," she laughed. "The country, I love it so, and it loves me back the same way, you know?"
They do share a taste for glamour, as evidence by her pretty wild shoes:
"These are like Corvettes," she said. "I don't drive so well. So instead of collecting cars, you could say I collect shoes."
Not the most practical footwear for a singer who at 25 needs to walk with a cane.
That smooth voice can make you forget Melody Gardot lives with almost constant physical pain:
"You gotta be pretty tough," Mason said.
"I went to the school of hard knocks. I don't mess around."
Six years ago, as a college student in Philadelphia, she was riding her bike through an intersection, when a Jeep ran a red light:
"And the next thing is, I remember I heard this sound, and I thought, 'Who is that? What is that?' And I realized that it was me screaming."
"Well, I'm buckled up inside,
Miracle that I'm alive"
The accident fractured her pelvis, damaged her spine, and Gardot suffered a traumatic brain injury that affected her memory, her speech, and left her hypersensitive to light and sound.
"My mother dropped a dish on the floor one day and the sound made me collapse," Gardot said.
"That's what a brain injury does - It takes your ability to access that away."
Therapy and drugs had failed. In desperation, Dr. Jermyn suggested Melody try music. (She had played piano in college.)
"It's a different part of your brain that perceives music," said Dr. Jermyn, who recalled Gardot returned to him to say, '"The music is there.'"
Gardot never gave up. Slowly . . . it would take years . . . music therapy began to rebuild the neural pathways in her brain.
"How did that grow into what you're doing now?" Mason asked.
"That is almost a question for God," she said.
From the wreckage of the accident, a musical career was born. When her songs were posted on MySpace in 2006, word quickly spread.
She said when she went onstage, "the first maybe half a dozen times experiencing this, that was the only 30 minutes in my life that I did not feel pain for that moment. And it was addictive."
On the day we visited with her, Melody heard, off-camera, that her album had gone double platinum in France, prompting a scream of delight. She's sold 200,000 copies there:
"Do you consider yourself a Philadelphian?" Mason asked.
"Yes, it's where I'm from. It's my nest. How could a bird forget the tree he fell out of?" she said. "But Paris has a pretty big pull on me, too!"
"Yeah, well, platinum'll do that to ya." Mason laughed.
The French word for it is "Renaissance" - a rebirth. It's as if Melody Gardot has been born again.
For more info: