Jazz singer Norah Jones is up for several awards

Allison Corneau

The 2003 Grammy Awards will get a lift this year as newcomer Norah Jones is up for an impressive five awards. The soulful songbird, recording under vintage New York label Blue Note Records, has taken the music world by storm since her recent hit, “Don’t Know Why,” took to the airwaves across the country on the February 2002 release, “Come Away With Me.”

A Texas-raised Brooklyn, NY native, Jones’ music is nominated for Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and most importantly, in the coveted Record of the Year category.

Jones, a professional piano player who studied at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas as well as a jazz piano concentration at musical school North Texas State University, put her studies on hold in 1999 to pursue a career in singing.

Writing her own songs with aspirations of being discovered, Jones partnered with New York City songwriters Jesse Harris, Lee Alexander and Dan Rieser to form a group they called Wax Poetic.

After submitting numerous demo tracks to Blue Note Records in 2000 in hopes of getting signed, Norah received a contract from the label in early 2001.

Jones’ musical styling echoes that of jazz greats Natalie Cole, John Coltrane and pianist Bill Evans, and her debut disc gave her the chance to work with producer Arif Mardin, who previously worked with the Bee Gees and Aretha Franklin, to produce her poignant debut.

“Come Away With Me” has struck a definite chord with critics, as 23-year-old Norah was voted ninth in Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 12 Entertainers of the Year,” and received an award for Best Young Female Singer from VH1 at their Best of 2002 Awards ceremony, held in December.

The debut record features takes of Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You,” John Loudermilk’s “Turn Me On” and Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart.”

Jones was able to give back to her musical idols when she took part in a tribute to legendary country performer Willie Nelson, along with Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow, Jon Bon Jovi and Brian McKnight. She also opened for Nelson on four of his tour stops in San Francisco, ending her stint performing a duet with the country superstar.

Norah Jones is currently on tour in Australia and New Zealand, but U.S. fans can get more Norah at her web site www.norahjones.com, or root for her at the Grammy Awards on Feb. 23, airing live from New York City locally on CBS.