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The Jones Saga — A Near Fantasy

The child of American concert producer Sue Jones and Indian sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, Jones has won nine Grammy Awards and was 60th on Billboard’s Artists of the 2000-09 Decade chart.

“People keep asking me, ‘Aren’t you nervous that people are gonna read [her own life] into all your lyrics?’ I’m like, no, because I know what’s real and what’s not. It’s mostly fantasy.” —Norah Jones


Norah Jones, the child of American concert producer Sue Jones and Indian sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who made her illustrious parents proud by striking out on her own, was born Geetali Norah Jones Shankar on March 30, 1979, at Brooklyn, New York. Anoushka Shankar is her half-sister.

Her parents separated in 1986, and Norah grew up in Texas with her mother. It was her school, Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, that shaped her musical career. While at school, she won the Down Beat Student Music Awards for Best Jazz Vocalist (in 1996 and 1997) and Best Original Composition (1996).

When she was 16 she officially changed her name from Geetali Shankar to Norah Jones.

In her long and illustrious career, Jones has won numerous awards and has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide. Billboard magazine named her the Top Jazz Artist of the 2000–2009 decade. She has won nine Grammy Awards and was 60th on Billboard magazine’s Artists of the 2000–2009 Decade chart.

In 2002, Jones released her first solo album, ‘Come Away With Me’, a fusion of jazz with country music and pop. It sold over 26 million copies, and earned Jones five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. Her subsequent albums, ‘Feel Like Home’ (2004); ‘Not Too Late’ (2007) and ‘The Fall’ (2009) all sold over a million copies each. Jones’ fifth album, ‘Little Broken Hearts’, was released in 2012. In 2007 she made her film debut in My Blueberry Nights. In March 2016, Jones announced on social media that she was almost finished with her new album.

She always has loved the music of ‘oldies’, Bill Evans and Billie Holiday, being her favourites. “My mom had this eight-album Billie Holiday set; I picked out one that I liked and played that over and over again,” Jones once said.

She attended the University of North Texas, where she majored in jazz piano. In 1999, she left Texas for New York, and less than a year later, started a band with Jesse Harris. The rest is history.

“In 2012, she came to India for the first time and performed in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.”

In 2003, at the 45th Grammy Awards she won the Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her album ‘Don’t Know Why’. Jones released her second album, ‘Feels Like Home’, in 2004, and it sold over a million copies within a week. It sold four million copies in the US, and more than 12 million worldwide.

Time featured her among 100 most influential people the same year. In 2005, at the 47th Grammy’s ‘Feels Like Home’ was nominated for three awards, and it won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the number ‘Sunrise’. She won two more Grammys that year – for Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. That album also won the Album of the Year award. Jones released her third album, ‘Not Too Late’, in 2007, in which she wrote or co-wrote every song. A song in this album, ‘My Dear Country’, is a political commentary that was written before the 2004 US presidential election. ‘Not Too Late’ topped the chart in 20 countries, and sold 4 million copies worldwide.

Jones made her film debut in 2007 in ‘My Blurberry Nights’, directed by Wong Kar Wai, co-starring Jude Law, David Strathairn, Rachel Weisz and Natalie Portman. It premiered at the Cannes in May 2007 and in the US in April 2008.

Jones’ fourth album, ‘The Fall’ (2009) sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and was certified gold or platinum in 14 countries as of 2010. Her 18-track ‘Blue Note’ disc was released on November 16, 2010.

Jones was in a relationship with bassist Lee Alexander from 2000 until their breakup in December 2007. The lyrics of her subsequent album, ‘The Fall’, supposedly reflect elements of the relationship. She then spent some time with her father Ravi Shankar in India, and wrote some of the material which made its way on to ‘The Fall’. Ravi Shankar died in 2012. In February 2014, Jones gave birth to her first child, a son.

She has toured the world with her band extensively. In 2012, she came to India for the first time and performed in three cities – Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. It’s said the India tour was something that her father wanted her to undertake

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