Norah Jones (born March 30, 1979) is
an American singer-songwriter, pianist, keyboardist, guitarist, and
actress. She is the daughter of sitarist Ravi Shankar, and the half-sister
of Anoushka Shankar. Her career began with her 2002 debut album Come Away
with Me, an adult contemporary vocal jazz album with a soul/folk/country
tinge, that received five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year,
Record of the Year and Best New Artist. This was followed by her second
album, Feels like Home, released in 2004. In 2007, she released her third
album, Not Too Late. Jones released her fourth album, The Fall, on
November 17, 2009. She has sold more than 17 million albums in the US and
over 40 million records worldwide; altogether, she has sold more albums
than any other female jazz artist during the 2000s. On December 11th 2009,
Jones was named Billboard's 60th-highest artist of the decade based on
charting of her songs.
Jones was born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar in Brooklyn, New York on March
30, 1979 to Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue
Jones. She spent her childhood with her mother, who moved to the Dallas
suburb of Grapevine, Texas, when Jones was four. She attended Colleyville
Middle School, followed by a short period at Grapevine High School before
transferring to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and
Visual Arts in Dallas. Her only formal vocal training was her stint in the
choir at Colleyville and Booker T. Washington. While at Colleyville, she
also participated in band and played the alto saxophone. At the age of
sixteen, with the blessings of her parents, she officially changed her
name to "Norah Jones."
Jones always had an affinity for the music of Bill Evans and Billie
Holiday, among other 'oldies.' She once said, "My mom had this eight-album
Billie Holiday set; I picked out one disc that I liked and played that
over and over again." She considers Willie Nelson her mentor. She began
singing in church choirs and took piano lessons as a child. She still
attends church. She considers herself spiritual and appreciates the ritual
of church but does not consider herself the religious type. She attended
Interlochen Center for the Arts during the summers. While at high school,
she won the DownBeat Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist (twice,
in 1996 and 1997) and Best Original Composition (1996).
Jones went to the University of North Texas, where she majored in jazz
piano. It was during this time she had a chance meeting with future
collaborator Jesse Harris, which would later catapult her to fame. She was
to pick up a band playing at the university that also happened to be
friends of Jesse Harris. Jesse Harris was making a stop on a cross-country
road-trip with his friend, and future Little Willies member, Richard
Julian, to see the same band play. After meeting, Harris was soon sending
her lead sheets of his songs. In 1999, she left for New York City. Less
than a year later she started a band with Harris.
Norah Jones signed a deal with Blue Note Records, a EMI Group owned label.
In January 2001, prior to the release of her first album on Hollywood, she
released a five-song EP, This Is My Time Advance EP to promote the album.
Jones was a lounge singer before becoming a recording artist. She played
with artists and bands including Wax Poetic and the Peter Malick Group.
She performed frequently with guitarist Charlie Hunter in 2001.
Jones' debut album, Come Away with Me, was released in February 2002 and
was instantly celebrated for its blending of mellow, acoustic pop with
soul and jazz. It hit number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, with the
single "Don't Know Why" hitting number one on the Top 40 Adult Recurrents
in 2003 and #30 in the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. It won Album of
the Year at the Grammy Awards. She made a cameo appearance in the 2002
movie Two Weeks Notice playing the piano and singing "The Nearness of You"
at the fundraiser.
The album received platinum certification by the Recording Industry
Association of America on August 22, 2002, and went on to become a diamond
album on February 15, 2005.
Jones released her second album, Feels Like Home, on February 9, 2004.
Rather than repeat the softer, jazz mood of Come Away with Me, her second
album was influenced by country music. Within a week of its release, Feels
Like Home had sold over a million copies, making it the highest-selling
album in the history of Blue Note Records. Jones toured globally again, to
promote the album with the Handsome Band, and the addition of backing
singer Daru Oda. Time magazine included Jones on the Time 100, a list of
the most influential people of 2004. The album débuted at number one in at
least 16 countries around the world.
Jones' third album, Not Too Late, was released by Blue Note Records on
January 30, 2007. The album is her first for which she wrote or co-wrote
every song, and according to her, some of them are much darker than those
on her previous albums. Not Too Late was mostly recorded at Jones's home
studio and is the first album Jones recorded without producer Arif Mardin,
who died in the summer of 2006. Jones described the sessions as "fun,
relaxed and easy" and without a deadline; executives at Blue Note Records
reportedly did not know they were recording an album. The song "My Dear
Country" is political commentary; she wrote it before the United States
Presidential election day in 2004.
Not Too Late reached the #1 position in twenty countries. It is the third
best first week album sales of 2007 after Avril Lavigne's third album The
Best Damn Thing and Linkin Park's third album Minutes to Midnight. The
album became the 800th album to reach the top spot on the UK chart. It
also reached #1 in the U.S. with 405,000 copies sold. According to a press
release from EMI, Not Too Late is certified gold or platinum in 21
countries as of February 2007. The album has sold 5 million copies
Jones announced in August 2009 that she would release a new album, The
Fall, on November 17. According to Billboard.com, the album is a departure
from past offerings, as she will forgoes her signature jazz sound and
embarks on more contemporary rock. She will collaborate with Ryan Adams,
Will Sheff of Okkervil River, the keyboardist James Poyser, bassist Frank
Swart, guitarists Marc Ribot and Smokey Hormel.
On September 9, 2009, Jones performed live at the Apple "It's Only Rock
and Roll" iPod event in San Francisco, California, to promote her new
The first single from The Fall, "Chasing Pirates", was released on October
13, 2009 through iTunes.
On January 13, 2010 Norah Jones released the "Chasing Pirates(Remix) - EP"
through iTunes. The EP contains the original and two remixes of "Chasing
Pirates", as well as, a new original song and it's remix, "That's What I
Jones was in a long term relationship with her bass player Lee Alexander
from 2000 until they split during Christmas of 2007.
Jones made a cameo appearance in the 2002 movie Two Weeks Notice, just as
her career was beginning to expand. The film shows her briefly at the
piano, singing for a charity benefit.
In the latter part of 2003, rumors emerged that veteran Indian filmmaker
Dev Anand was planning to make the film Song of Life, inspired by Jones's
troubled relationship with her father, Ravi Shankar. Both Jones and
Shankar were enraged by the rumors. Jones commented, "Anand has no idea of
our story, and he's not going to represent it in a truthful way, I'm sure.
It's sad because it's personal stuff and nobody's business but ours."
Jones appeared on the Ryan Adams & The Cardinals album, Jacksonville City
Nights on the track, "Dear John".
Jones additionally formed the Little Willies in 2003 alongside Richard
Julian on vocals, Jim Campilongo on guitar, Lee Alexander on bass, and Dan
Rieser on drums. The self-titled album contains mostly covers material and
is primarily influenced by classic country music artists.
Jones appeared on the OutKast album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below on the
track "Take Off Your Cool". This album won the Grammy Award for Album of
In a change of direction predating The Fall, Jones (virtually anonymous in
a blond wig) played guitar on the self titled El Madmo released on May 20
2007 as "Maddie".
Jones has also worked with Mike Patton providing vocals on the track
Sucker on the Peeping Tom project.
Jones appeared in the 2004 special Sesame Street Presents: The Street We
Jones appeared on Ray Charles' final album, Genius Loves Company, on the
track "Here We Go Again". This song later won the Grammy Award for Record
of the Year, and the album won Album of the Year.
In February 2006, Screen International reported that Jones would make her
acting debut as the protagonist of a film directed by Wong Kar-wai. The
film, My Blueberry Nights, was the opening film for the 2007 Cannes Film
Festival as one of the 22 films in competition. She wrote a song for the
movie. In January 2007, Jones recorded a live session at Abbey Road
Studios for Live from Abbey Road. The episode, on which John Mayer and
Richard Ashcroft also appeared, was aired in the United Kingdom on Channel
4 in March 2007 and in the USA on the Sundance Channel in June 2007. She
appeared twice on the PBS series Austin City Limits, on November 2, 2002
and October 6, 2007. The latter appearance was the season opener.
Jones appears in Herbie Hancocks' River: The Joni Letters singing the
first track titled "Court and Spark". This album also won Album of the
Jones appeared in the comedy track Dreamgirl in the debut album from The
Lonely Island, Incredibad (featuring SNL performer Andy Samberg). The
first half of the song pays homage to a certain fictional female, but the
second half goes on tangent, paying yet another homage to Chex Mix.
In 2009, Jones made a cameo appearance in the independent film, Wah Do
Dem, co-starring Sean Bones and written by Ben Chace and Sam Fleischner.
Jones was a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards, supporting
independent artists' careers.
In 2007 Norah Jones appears on Foo Fighters "In Your Honor" album with
piano and vocals on the song "Virginia Moon"
Jones is one of the participants in the so-called Hank Williams Project
being overseen by Bob Dylan, and reportedly including contributions from
Willie Nelson, Jack White, Lucinda Williams, and Alan Jackson. On March
31, 2008, Jones commemorated the 10th anniversary of The Living Room with
a midnight performance at the intimate Manhattan music venue where the
singer got her start. She played a new song titled "How Many Times Have
You Broken My Heart" and explained that it originated from newly-found
Hank Williams lyrics she was asked to put to music. Jones also performed
the song in late 2008 on Elvis Costello's talk/music television series,
Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...
Throughout 2002 and 2003, Jones appeared on stages globally, for her first
tour with the Handsome Band, travelling throughout Asia, America, Europe
and Oceania. The tour was received with numerous sell-out concerts and
positive critical acclaim. Jones began a United States concert tour to
promote her third album, Not Too Late, on April 13, 2007, ending with a
free concert in New York City on July 6, 2007. Pre-sales of tickets to the
shows were available to her fan club members, and many sold out well
before the performance date. She began her European tour on July 9, 2007
in Paris, and concluded with a concert in Reykjavík, Iceland on September
2, 2007. While playing with the Handsome Band, Jones & co. are known to
play several known hits from her albums, modified for stage performance
with guitar solos and additional percussion. Additionally, shows may also
feature several covers of country, jazz, blues, or folk songs, ranging
from the ubiquitous to the obscure. Artists covered have included, among
others, Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, John Prine, Randy
Newman, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, and Tom Waits.
Jones worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization, for her
2007 summer tour. She also performed at Bryant Park on July 6 as part of
Good Morning America's Summer Concert Series.
- 2002/2004: Come Away with Me Tour
- 2004/2005: Norah Jones & The Handsome Band Tour
- 2007/2008: Not Too Late Tour
- 2007/2008: The Fall Tour
- On September 9, 2009, Jones performed the songs Come Away with Me and
Young Blood at the end of the Apple It's Only Rock and Roll press -
conference in San Francisco, for the release of iTunes 9 and video
camera-equipped iPods, among other items.
- She appeared on Sesame Street performing alongside Elmo to the song I
Don't Know Why.
- On May 14, 2009, Jones made a guest appearance and performed with many
other music icons on the NBC series30 Rock.
- On November 18, 2009, Jones played Young Blood from The Fall on the
- On December 15, 2009, Jones played Chasing Pirates on The Tonight Show
with Conan O'Brien.