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Norah Jones (born Geethali Norah Jones Shankar; March 30, 1979) is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, keyboardist, guitarist, and actress.
In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away With Me, which was certified a diamond album in 2002, selling over 20 million copies.] The record earned Jones five Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. Her subsequent studio albums, Feels like Home, released in 2004, Not Too Late, released in 2007 and her 2009 release The Fall, all gained Platinum status after selling over a million copies and were generally well received by critics.
Jones has won nine Grammy Awards and was Billboard magazine's 60th best-selling music artist of the 2000–2009 decade.
Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, Jones is the daughter of Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue Jones. She is the half-sister of Anoushka Shankar.After her parents' separation in 1986, Jones spent her childhood with her mother in the Fort Worth suburb of Grapevine, Texas, where she attended Colleyville Middle School and Grapevine High School before transferring to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. While in high school, Jones sang in the school choir, 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 rituals of her 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 attended the University of North Texas (UNT), where she majored in jazz piano and sang with the UNT Jazz Singers. During this time she had a chance meeting with future collaborator Jesse Harris. She gave a ride to a band playing at the university whose members happened to be friends of Harris. He was on a cross-country road-trip with friend and future The Little Willies member, Richard Julian, and stopped to see the band play. After meeting Jones, Harris started 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, which would soon catapult her to fame.
2001-2004: First Sessions and Come Away with Me
Jones' February 2002 debut album, Come Away with Me, was celebrated for its blending of mellow, acoustic pop with soul and jazz. Debuting at #139, it reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The single "Don't Know Why" hit #1 on the Top 40 Adult Recurrents in 2003 and #30 in the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart.
In 2003, she won five Grammy Awards, Best New Artist, Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for the album and Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single "Don't Know Why" at the 45th Grammy Awards. This matched the record for most Grammy wins by a female artist in a single night (tying with Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys). That night, Jesse Harris won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for composing "Don't Know Why", Arif Mardin won Producer of the Year, primarily for his work on Come Away With Me, and the album also received the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
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. It remains the Blue Note's biggest-selling album.
2004-2006: Feels like Home and collaboration with
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.
In 2005, at the 47th Grammy Awards, Feels like Home was nominated for three Grammys. It won for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Sunrise", and had nominations for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for her duet with Dolly Parton, "Creepin 'In".
She won two more Grammy Awards that year, for Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for her collaboration with Ray Charles, "Here We Go Again", which was the first track on Charles' last album, Genius Loves Company. Genius Loves Company won the Album of the Year Award.
2007-2008: Not Too Late
Not Too Late reached the #1 position in twenty countries. Not Too Late holds the third best first week album sales of 2007 after Avril Lavigne's The Best Damn Thing and Linkin Park's Minutes to Midnight. It reached #1 in the U.S. selling 405,000 copies. EMI announced that Not Too Late reached gold, platinum or multi-platinum in 21 countries as of February 2007 The album has sold 6 million copies worldwide.
By 2007, Jones had sold over 36 million albums worldwide.
2009-present: The Fall
The album's lead single, "Chasing Pirates", peaked at #13 on Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and #7 on Jazz Songs.
Billboard's 2000-2009 decade Awards ranked her as the top Jazz recording artist, at #60 best Artist. Come Away With Me was elected the #4 album and #1 jazz album. Jones earned a platinum certification by the RIAA for sales of 1 million copies of The Fall. The album sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and was certified gold or platinum in 14 countries as of 2010. "Baby, It's Cold Outside", a duet with Willie Nelson, was nominated in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category.
Her fourth world tour began March 5, 2010.
Jones announced plans to release ...Featuring, a compilation album of collaborations she has done with well-known musicians, including the Foo Fighters, Willie Nelson, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Outkast, Q-Tip, Talib Kweli, Belle and Sebastian, Ray Charles, Ryan Adams, Dolly Parton, Herbie Hancock, M. Ward, and others. Jones said, “It's so exciting and flattering and fun when I get asked to sing with somebody that I admire...It takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone when you're doing something with another artist. You don't know what to expect—it's kind of like being a little kid and having a playdate.” The 18-track Blue Note disc is planned for release on November 2.
Jones was in a long term relationship with Lee Alexander from 2000 until they split at Christmas 2007.
Additional projects and collaborations
Jones made a cameo appearance in the 2002 movie Two Weeks Notice. The film shows her briefly at the piano, singing for a charity benefit.
Jones appears on the track "Ruler of My Heart" (a cover of an Irma Thomas song), on the 2002 Dirty Dozen Brass Band album, Medicated Magic.
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 OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below album, on "Take Off Your Cool". This album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year (Jones was not credited).
Jones appeared in the 2004 special Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On.
Jones appeared on Ray Charles' final album, Genius Loves Company, in 2004, on "Here We Go Again".
Jones 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 alt country band released its eponymous first album in 2006.
Jones has done three Grammy nominated duets with Willie Nelson: Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want To Get Over You) in 2003, "Dreams Come True" in 2005 and Baby, It's Cold Outside in 2009.
In 2005, Jones appeared on the Foo Fighters' album In Your Honor, performing piano and vocals on the song "Virginia Moon". The track was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, in 2006.
Jones appeared on Ryan Adams' & The Cardinals' 2005 album,
Jacksonville City Nights on the track "Dear John".
In 2007, Jones made her acting debut as the protagonist in a film directed by Wong Kar-wai. The film, My Blueberry Nights, opened for the 2007 Cannes Film Festival as one of the 22 films in competition. She wrote and performed a song, "The Story", 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 on UK Channel 4 and on the Sundance Channel. 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.
In a change of direction predating The Fall, Jones (referring to herself as "Maddie" and virtually anonymous in a blond wig) sang and played guitar with rock band El Madmo. The band consists of Jones, Daru Oda and Richard Julian and released an eponymous album on May 20, 2007.
Jones appears in Herbie Hancocks' 2007 release River: The Joni Letters singing the first track, "Court and Spark". This album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008; Jones was credited as a featured artist, her ninth Grammy win.
Jones appeared on the comedy track "Dreamgirl", on the 2009 debut album from The Lonely Island, Incredibad (featuring SNL performer Andy Samberg).
In 2008, Jones made another appearance in hip hop with an appearance on a track named "Life Is Better", on the critically acclaimed album The Renaissance by rapper Q-tip.
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 2010, Jones contributed "World of Trouble" to the Enough Project and Downtown Records' Raise Hope for Congo compilation. Proceeds from the compilation fund efforts to make the protection and empowerment of Congo’s women a priority, as well as inspire individuals around the world to raise their voice for peace in Congo.
Hank Williams project
Jones is one of the participants in the so-called 'Hank Williams Project' 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, on her first tour with the Handsome Band, travelling throughout Asia, America, Europe and Oceania, with numerous sold-out concerts and critical acclaim. Jones tour to promote her third album, Not Too Late, began in Wallingford, Connecticut, on April 13, 2007, and featured a free concert in New York City on July 6, 2007.The European phase began on July 9, 2007 in Paris, concluding in Reykjavík, Iceland on September 2, 2007. Jones and band play typically several album hits, modified 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
On September 9, 2009, Jones performed the songs Come Away With Me and Young Blood at the end of the Apple Inc.'s '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 "Don't Know Why". On May 14, 2009, Jones made a guest appearance and performed with many other music icons on the season finale of the NBC series 30 Rock.