A native of Quebec, Madeleine Theriault studied both jazz and classical music. She graduated with honors from Concordia University in Montreal and was awarded the Music Prize, given to the most outstanding graduating student. She then earned a Master of Music in Jazz Vocal Performance from the University of Miami. She also participated in many jazz workshops headed by influential figures such as Joe Henderson, Pat Metheny, Betty Carter, and Red Rodney.
Since moving back to Montreal, Madeleine has performed in a variety of settings from clubs to concerts. She has been featured nationally on CBC Radio. She has appeared in several premier venues including the Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill, les Maisons de la culture, and the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall. Credits include performances with some of Canada's top jazz musicians: Wray Downes, Richard Ring, Normand Guilbeault, Pierre Tanguay, Charles Ellison, Dave Turner, James Gelfand, Michel Donato, the Andrew Homzy Jazz Orchestra.
She currently teaches jazz repertoire, interpretation, and voice technique at Concordia University and conducts the jazz choir at McGill University's Schulich School of Music. She gives master classes to visiting schools, adjudicates, and teaches private lessons in jazz singing.
Although she has been performing jazz since 1988, she chose to limit her appearances, during the last 10 years, and took time off to raise her two sons. She is now making a come back with her debut album Eclipse. She recorded this album with her husband, pianist, Wray Downes. Eclipse also features Marc Villemure on guitar, Brian Hurley on bass, Michel Lambert on drums, and Frank Lozano on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet.
An accomplished vocalist and arranger, Madeleine Theriault balances emotion and technique in a nuanced delivery of songs. Her gentle voice and clear enunciation contribute to create an intimate setting for her compelling renditions. Her vocal delivery has been compared to that of Blossom Dearie and Sheila Jordan.
"I am somewhat of a nonconformist, she admits, I have my way of going about things and don't often follow the typical route. You could say I came to music late in life but that wouldn't be quite right, since music has always been at the core of my existence. My father was a pianist and had a collection of classical records, which he played all the time when the radio wasn't doing its thing. I taught myself guitar and flute when I was 14 years old. I sang and accompanied myself in the style of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and other folk singers of the time, but that's not all I listened to. As a teenager I had an eclectic collection of records, which included John Coltrane, John McLaughlin, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, the Beatles, and King Crimson.
Only when I was in my twenties did I discover jazz singing. I started taking voice lessons and had the good fortune of finding a voice teacher who was passionate and kind and who nourished my own passion for jazz. I applied to music school in my late twenties (this is where the coming to music late in life fits in), got my undergrad then my master's degree.
Did I forget to tell you that I hated school when I was a kid? When I graduated from high school I was ecstatic at the thought of never setting foot again in another school! Funny, how things work out. I now teach jazz at two universities and quite enjoy it."