H.E.A.R.honors Norah Jones
Norah Jones was born March 30, 1979 in New York City. When
she was four years old, Norah and her mother Sue moved to
the Dallas suburb of Grapevine, Texas. Norah's earliest musical
influences came from her mother's extensive LP collection
and from 'oldies' radio. She began singing in church choirs
at age five, commenced piano lessons two years later, and
briefly played alto saxophone in junior high.
"My mom had this eight-album Billie Holiday set. I picked
out one disc that I liked and played that over and over again.
"You Go To My Head", that was my favorite."
When Jones was 15, she and her mother moved from Grapevine
to Dallas' central city, where Norah enrolled in Booker T.
Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
(Soul singer Erykah Badu and trumpeter Roy Hargrove are also
Norah played her first gig on her 16th birthday, an open-mic
night at a local coffeehouse, where she performed a version
of "I'll Be Seeing You" that she'd learned from Etta James'
treatment of this Billie Holiday favorite. While still in
high school, Norah won the Down Beat Student Music Awards
for "Best Jazz Vocalist" and "Best Original Composition" in
1996, and earned a second SMA for "Best Jazz Vocalist" in
1997. After graduation, Jones entered the University of North
Texas, nationally renowned for its music programs, where she
majored in jazz piano. She also sang with a band called Laszlo,
playing what she describes as "dark, jazzy rock."
In the summer of 1999, Norah accepted a friend's offer of
a summer sublet in Greenwich Village. She came to Manhattan
and never returned to North Texas State.
"The music kept me here. The music scene is so huge, I found
it very exciting. I especially enjoyed hearing amazing songwriters
at little places like The Living Room. Everything opened up
For about a year beginning in December 1999, Norah appeared
regularly with the funk-fusion band Wax Poetic (now signed
to Atlantic). But she soon assembled her own group with Jesse
Harris, Lee Alexander, and Dan Rieser. In October 2000, this
lineup recorded a selection of demos for Blue Note Records.
On the strength of these recordings and a live showcase, Jones
was signed to Blue Note in January 2001.
Norah sang two songs (Roxy Music's "More Than This" and "Day
Is Done" by Nick Drake) on guitarist Charlie Hunter's Blue
Note album Songs from the Analog Playground, and has frequently
performed live with Hunter's group. Norah began recording
the songs of "Come Away With Me" in May 2001, doing preliminary
work with producer Craig Street at Bearsville Studio in Woodstock,
New York. In August 2001, the singer and her musicians went
back to work, this time with Arif Mardin at Sorcerer Sound
"I was nervous at first. I didn't want some amazing producer
who'd done all these famous records to come in and have me
be scared to tell him what I thought. But Arif is the nicest
guy in the world, very easygoing. He was there to keep my
act together and make sure I got a good record. Arif had great
"I never thought I'd have a record like this. I thought
it would be at least five years before I'd reach that point.
This is really the record I wanted to make."
Norah Jones is that kind of singer. Her Blue Note debut album,
"Come Away With Me", offers a musicalityand depth of feeling
that would be uncommon in any era. In the present day, in
a performer just 22 years of age, these qualities are truly
The Brooklyn-based artist has sung and played piano professionally
since her teens; Come Away With Me reveals her estimable skills
as a songwriter and arranger. Norah composed the unforgettable
title song "Come Away With Me", "Nightingale", and she co-wrote
"The Long Day Is Over". She puts a sophisticated Western-swing
spin on Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart" and utterly transforms
the John D. Loudermilk blues ballad "Turn Me On" (with thanks
to Nina Simone, from whose recording Norah learned the song).
"Come Away With Me" blends elements of jazz, soul, country,
and folk-pop in a warm, unself conscious amalgam and erases
musical boundaries in the process. One could imagine fans
of Sade, Charlie Rich, and Nick Drake all deriving equal enjoyment
from this record.
Norah, on vocals, piano and Wurlitzer electric piano, is
backed seamlessly by a skilled supporting cast. Bassist Lee
Alexander, drummer Dan Rieser, and guitarists Jesse Harris
and Adam Levy are among the New York musicians with whom Norah
has been playing live since the autumn of 2000. Her special
guests on "Come Away With Me" include Bill Frisell (guitar),
Kevin Breit (guitar), Brian Blade (drums), Jenny Scheinman
(violin), Rob Burger (accordion), Sam Yahel (Hammond B-3 organ)
and Kenny Wollesen (drums).
The adroit and understated production is by Arif Mardin the
veteran producer/arranger of landmark recordings by Aretha
Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Laura Nyro, Roberta Flack, and
Willie Nelson, to name a few. Norah and album engineer Jay
Newland produced "Don't Know Why" and "Turn Me On", with additional
production by Arif. Craig Street is credited with original
production of three tracks ("Seven Years", :Feelin' The Same
Way", and "The Long Day Is Over"), with additional production
by Jay and Norah.
Norah Jones and her ablum " Come Away with Me" won eight
Grammys at the 45th Annual Grammmy Awards on Sunday, Febuary
23rd at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Norah won five awards-Album of the Year, Record of theYear
for(" Don't Know Why"), Best NewArtist, Best Female Pop
vocal Performanc efor ("Don't Know Why") and Best Pop
VocalAlbum. In Addition,"Don't KnowWhy" won three awards for
Song of the Year (awarded to the songwriter, Jesse Harris),Best
Producer, nonclassical (Arif Mardin) andBest Engineered album,
non-classical (awarded to engineers Husy Huskolds,Arif Mardin
and Jay Newland.
Summer Tour Announced Tour dates for the 2003 Norah will
be touring throughout the U.S. from early June to mid August.
For more info go to www.norahjones.com