The Humility Of Norah Jones

She Says Her Dominance At The Grammys Made Her Feel Bad


Norah says her musical roots are country and jazz, tastes acquired growing up in Grapevine, Texas, listening to her mother's eclectic record collection. An only child, she was raised by a single mom, who sacrificed to give her daughter every opportunity.

Norah's father is the famous musician, Ravi Shankar, the virtuoso Indian sitar player. "I knew who my dad was," she says. "I saw him sporadically until I was nine and then I didn't see him again or talk to him until I was 18."

Shankar never married her mother – their relationship, Norah says, was complicated and it ended when she was young. Her mother, she says, didn't want her talking about him.

Jones acknowledges it was kind of a secret. "You know, when you have a father who's pretty well known but you don't see him, the last thing you want to do is start talking about him all the time to people," she says.

When Norah turned 18, she sought out her father, who was living in California with his daughter and second wife.

Asked if she was angry or sought an apology from her father when they reconnected, Jones says, "Yeah. I might have. I might have wanted that."

Today she says they are close.

"Do you consider yourself part Indian?" Couric asks.

"I grew up in Texas with a white mother," Jones says. "I feel very Texan, actually and New York. New Yorker."

Norah Jones moved to Greenwich Village when she was 20 years old. "It's a cool neighborhood to live in. When I first moved here, I actually moved to a little street called Jones Street," she remembers.

She waited tables and got gigs singing and playing Jazz standards in small clubs.

In less than a year, her musical career took off when an accountant for Blue Note Records came to hear her perform. She was signed and put out her first album, which she hoped would ultimately sell 10,000 copies. It sold over 20 million.

"You've sold more records this decade than any other female artist in America. And you did it between the ages of 22 and 24," Couric points out. "And yet you say those were the worst years of your life."

"They were, kind of. I wasn't my happiest," Jones says.

Her unexpected success plunged her into a relentless, three year whirlwind of touring and promotion.

She says she was overwhelmed and cut back. One thing Jones did was nix a remix of "Don't Know Why," saying, "It was just kind of silly."

"That's pretty unusual though. Because a lot of people, say 'Hey this is my moment. I'm going to take advantage of it,'" Couric remarks.

"At the time? It had already surpassed my wildest dreams. And I said, 'You gotta slow this thing down.' You know. 'I'm dying here.' I just, I was really just afraid of being overexposed. And overdoing it," she says.
  • Daniel Schorn

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