For some reason, I wasn’t able to catch Madeleine Peyroux when she played the Rochester Jazz Festival in 2005, so I made the trip to see her a few weeks later in Toronto. My memory may be faulty but I’m pretty sure she was the opening act, which seemed odd since I'd never even heard of the headliner, someone named Lhasa. It didn’t seem odd for long. Madeleine was a bit rough, but charming. Her set seemed more like a rehearsal. The crowd was polite but then, when Lhasa came out, they exploded. It was a spellbinding show. Most of the songs were in Spanish or French and if I understood those languages I suppose I would’ve have been bawling, rather than just wiping a tear away now and then. The woman communicated.
After I got back home, I tracked down her album The Living Road and it has remained a special favorite. It closes with the lyrics, "Soon this space will be too small and I'll go outside." I can't tell you what she meant by that but I've always liked to think the 'space' she's talking about is your body. Eventually that container fills up.
I was online this morning and found this: Lhasa: Border Crossing Musician Dies. She had breast cancer. She was 37.