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Norah Jones On Piano Jazz

Norah Jones.
Peter Kramer
Getty Images Entertainment
Norah Jones.

Singer, composer and pianist Norah Jones was born on March 30, 1979, in New York City. But her musical life began in Grapevine, Tex. It was during her time there that she began singing in church choirs and taking piano lessons, even trying out the alto saxophone. Her earliest influences came from her mother's extensive LP collection and a Dallas oldies station. While listening to her mom's records, Jones fell in love with jazz by way of the Billie Holiday albums she'd play over and over again.

When she was 15, Jones moved to Dallas with her mother. She became a student at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Inspired by an Etta James recording of "I'll Be Seeing You," she performed her version at age 16 in a local coffeehouse during open-mic night. It was her first solo gig. While in high school, she played with a jazz-rock band and earned her first awards: the 1996 Downbeat Student Music Awards for "Best Jazz Vocalist" and "Best Original Composition." She won the Downbeat SMA for "Best Jazz Vocalist" again in 1997, and she later majored in jazz piano at the University of North Texas.

Jones' musical life started taking off when she moved to Manhattan in 1999. She intended to stay in the city for the summer, but found a musical life so rich and appealing that she decided to stay. Later that year, Jones began to appear regularly with a funk-fusion band called Wax Poetic. By the fall of 2000, she had a group of her own, with which she recorded some demos for Blue Note Records. Following a live showcase, she signed with the label in January 2001.

Jones first album, Come Away With Me, became a multiple Grammy winner and multi-platinum seller, and it opened the door for her to perform around the world with her band. Her second album, Feels Like Home, featured such guests as Dolly Parton, drummer Levon Helm and organist/accordionist Garth Hudson of The Band, as well as long-time friends such as guitarists Jesse Harris and Tony Scherr and drummer Brian Blade. Her third album, Not Too Late, came in 2007 and featured 13 tunes that Jones either wrote or co-wrote. She also recently made her acting debut in the film My Blueberry Nights and appeared on the soundtrack.

This program is Jones' second appearance on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. It was recorded live at the 2003 Tanglewood Jazz festival with a record-setting audience on hand.

Originally recorded Aug. 30, 2003, at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival. Originally broadcast May 4, 2004.

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