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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Who is Geethali Norah Jones Shankar?

Who is Geethali Norah Jones Shankar? The world knows her better by her stage name Norah Jones. Jones is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, keyboardist, guitarist, and actress of Anglo-American and Indian-Bengali descent. She is the daughter of sitarist Ravi Shankar and the half-sister of Anoushka Shankar.[1] Her career began with her 2002 debut album Come Away with Me, an adult contemporary vocal jazz album with a sensual, plaintive soul/folk/country tinge, that received five Grammy Awards, including "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. She has sold more than 16 million albums in the US[2] and over 36 million records worldwide; altogether, she has sold more albums than any other female jazz artist during the 2000s.[3]

Jones was born March 30, 1979 in Brooklyn, New York City on March 30, 1979 to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and Sue Jones. She spent her childhood with her mother, who moved to the Fort Worth 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. She officially changed her name to Norah Jones at the age of sixteen with the blessings of her parents.

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 attended Interlochen Arts Camp 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).[4]

University of North Texas at Denton, where she majored in jazz piano. It was during this time she had a chance meeting with future collaborator (and her own catapult to fame) Jesse Harris. She was picking up a band that was playing at the university that also happened to be friends of Harris' who was making a stop on a cross-country road-trip with her friend, Richard Julian, to see the band play. After having met Harris was sending her lead sheets of his songs. In 1999, after two years of struggling in the program at the university, she left for New York City. Less than a year later she started a band with Harris.[5]

Jones was a lounge singer before becoming a recording artist.[6] 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 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 was certified as platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on August 22, 2002, and went on to become a diamond album (she sold over 10 million copies of that Album) on February 15, 2005.[7]

Jones released a second album, on February 9, 2004. Rather than repeat the softer, jazz mood of Come Away with Me,

Watch more Come Away With Me videos on AOL Video

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.[8] "Feels Like Home" debuted at number-one in most countries around the world and has sold 13 million copies.

Jones' third album 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.[9] 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 twenty-one countries as of February 2007.[10] The album has sold 5 million copies worldwide.

Jones announced on August 20, 2009 that she will release an as-of-yet untitled album in November 2009. According to, the album appears to be a departure from past offerings, as she will forego her signature jazz sound and embark on more contemporary rock. She will collaborate with Ryan Adams, Will Sheff
of Okkervil River, and keyboardist James Poyser.

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. She also made a cameo in the 2002 movie Two Weeks Notice came 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 also appeared on the Ryan Adams & The Cardinals album, Jacksonville City Nights on the track, "Dear John".

Jones has also worked with Mike Patton providing vocals on the track "sucker" on the first and only album of collaboration band "Peeping Tom". Jones appeared in the 2004 special Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On.[11]

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 was also a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[12]

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.[13][14][15] 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 that she was asked to put music to.[16] Jones also performed the song in late 2008 on Elvis Costello's talk/music television series, Spectacle: Elvis Costello With... Norah was also featured on one track of Outkast's album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Norah is heard singing in the begining of the song "Take Off Your Cool".

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.[17] 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.


Year Film Role Notes
2002 Two Weeks Notice Herself appearance
2007 My Blueberry Nights Elizabeth Protagonist
2008 Life. Support. Music. Herself appearance



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