“Without a piano I don’t know how to stand, don’t know what to do with my hands.”- Norah Jones
The eclectic voice, the simple contemporary jazz sound and beautiful looks have given this talented young artist global recognition. Norah Jones single handedly brought contemporary jazz music to a world wide audience. Her soulful music can be termed as acoustic pop, a mixture of blues and jazz but it is her subtle piano playing which gives it the journey like feel. Her Grammy Award winning first album has sold a staggering 20 million albums. She is easily the most successful female jazz artist of all times.
Come Away with Norah
Norah Jones was born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar to legendary Indian sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar and American concert producer Sue Jones. There is much speculation about the relationship with her father, something she has never talked about. Growing up on jazz legends such as Billie Holliday and Willie Nelson; she was always interested in music. Right from her early age she learnt how to play the piano. After her college she moved to New York City to start her own band. In fact she was a lounge musician before she recorded her first album. In 2001, she signed with Blue Note records, the jazz label for EMI and began recording her first album “Come Away with Me”. Released in 2002, it was a contemporary jazz/soul album recorded in New York; her mellowed down approach, the melodic undertone and soulful lyrics was a revelation.
The New Lady of Jazz
The albums two singles “Don’t Know Why” and “Come Away with me” started receiving heavy radio and MTV airplay, eventually the album reached No.1 on Billboard. The music press was hailing her as the New Lady of Jazz and the album was receiving great reviews. It went on to win 8 Grammies in 2003. The album has sold 20 million copies till date. Norah Jones had achieved the impossible!
After the success of her first album, Norah continued to tour through out 2003. The world tour was a sell-out and he back up band The Handsome Band was the perfect foil for her piano and vocal styles. The bass player Lee Alexander who was also her partner wrote and co-produced some of her work. In 2004, Norah Jones releases “Feels Like Home”, the album debut No.1 on Billboard charts. The sophomore album was a slight departure from the first album. This was Norah Jones being inspired by Willie Nelson whom she considers her mentor. Norah’s vocals sound untreated and natural. The production is simple and very organic. The bluesy sound dwells into more country sensibilities. She wins another Grammy for “Sunrise” and was also nominated for Best Pop Album.
The Melody Maker
Along with her band she went on a world wide tour singing cover songs as well as her own compositions. In 2007, she released her third album “Not Too Late”, recorded in her home studio; it is produced by legendary soul producer Arif Mardin. The album at first sound seems darker then her previous work. There is an acoustic guitar which seems to be more in prominent than the piano. The album goes on to sell 5 million copies and the tour across America is a sell out.
After breaking up with Lee Alexander, Norah took some time off but records with Ray Charles on the “Genius Love Company” album. Her duet “Here we Go Again” wins the Record of the Year at the Grammies. Norah acts herself playing the piano in the Hugh Grant romantic movie Two Weeks Notice. She turns to a full feature by making My Blueberry Nights with British actor Jude Law. Her reason for doing the movie seems to be time off from recording rather then pursuing an acting career. She also records for the movies soundtrack.
The New Chapter
She recorded her new album “The Fall” and released it 2009. Collaborating with a brand new set of people, it was more art rock and a transformation from her previous albums. The electric guitar sounds more prominent but there is no deliberate push towards a rockier sound. The work is more tight and cohesive. The dreamy nature of her previous work is now given direction. The first single “Chasing Pirates” has a more pop sensibility and the video has her in a brand new hair cut which makes her look very different. This is the new chic Norah Jones!
Did you know that...
- ...Norah Jones is the second highest debut selling solo artist behind Alanis Morisette
- ...she appeared on Sesame street performing with Elmo
- ...Norah Jones performed the Beatles song “Across the Universe” along with Bono, Steven Tyler and Slash during the 2005