Singer, songwriter and pianist Norah Jones has been creating quite a sensation in the music industry. The 22-year-old newcomer won over the crowd at the recent South By Southwest music convention in Austin, Texas. And, legendary Atlantic Records producer Arif Mardin was so impressed with Norah that he personally took charge of her debut album Come Away With Me.
With her smoky voice and storyteller's approach to writing, Norah Jones blends jazz, pop, country folk and soul. The online music site CD Now describes her as "a relative rarity, a rock singer who fits perfectly in a low-key jazz contest."
Growing up in Texas, Norah attended the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, then majored in jazz piano at the University of North Texas before heading to New York City. Norah comments, "The music scene there is so huge and exciting. Everything opened up for me, and I couldn't leave." Norah wrote songs and played in nightclubs. In 2000, she put a demo tape together, and that led to a contract with Blue Note, the famous jazz label.
Norah likes to downplay the fact that she's the daughter of famed Indian musician Ravi Shankar. He played a marginal role in her childhood, and she was brought up by her American mother. Norah admits, "I love my dad, but I didn't grow up with him and my music has nothing to do with him. I just don't want that to be the focus."
Norah was influenced by jazz, pop and rhythm and blues, and classic vocalists such as Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. Her new album Come Away With Me features her own songs, as well as covers by diverse artists and songwriters such as J.D. Loudermilk, Hank Williams and Hoagy Carmichael.
Norah Jones has been receiving rave reviews in publications such as Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times magazine. Rolling Stone magazine included her in their recent article, "The Next Wave: 10 Artists To Watch."
Norah says, "I feel like this record is a pretty full expression of where I am now. I don't know if it can be classified as jazz or pop music. Hopefully, it can be appreciated by fans of both. It has lots of different elements. In the end though, it's all about the songs."
Norah recently played in Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, sharing the stage with Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews, Matchbox 20, Bon Jovi, Aaron Neville, Brian McKnight and others in a tribute show for country legend Willie Nelson.
In June, she'll be embarking on a tour of clubs and music festivals.