Singer Norah Jones eager to move on

Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2003

NEW YORK As dreamlike as Norah Jones' past year has been, the folky jazz singer is ready to snap out of it.

''I'm kind of anxious to do (another album) because I wanted to move on so badly,'' says the Grammy winner, who starts a summer tour Friday. ''Even if it's a big flop, I just want to go to the next stage, because some of the record was recorded so long ago, I just got so sick of it.''

Jones seems to be in the minority with those sentiments.

''Come Away With Me,'' which became a surprise double-platinum sensation last year, has refused to die. The disc has hovered at or near the top of the album charts for months since her Grammy wins in February. It's now sold more than 6 million copies. And Friday, she kicks off a summer tour in Fort Myers, Fla., playing in front of thousands of fans each night.

But she acknowledges she's more comfortable singing to a few dozen in a nightclub; that's how she's been spending her time recently, warbling country tunes with a couple of friends in a tiny New York City bar.

''There were only 50 people there, and if we had sucked, then nobody would have cared,'' Jones says in an interview at the offices of her label, Blue Note Records.

''This year has been so pressurized, and every show, somebody's coming that's important, or somebody's going to write an article 'Oh no, we've got to be good.' And I need to stop thinking about that. But this summer, we're playing for like 5,000 people, and it's like, 'Oh no, that's going to be scary too!'''

Jones wasn't supposed to have that kind of pressure. ''Come Away With Me,'' was expected to sell 100,000 copies, at best.

But the album's mellow jazz garnered her mass appeal, especially with older listeners. Though the disc didn't have a Top 40 single, the smoky, sensual ''Don't Know Why'' became an underground hit, and the album's popularity kept growing and growing. It netted a total of eight Grammys at February's ceremony, including for album of the year, producer of the year, and song and record of the year for ''Don't Know Why.''

''Just when we thought that it was at the apex, it exploded again, it was crazy,'' she says with a smile. ''We kept thinking, 'Ah, this is great, it's all going to stop next week probably,' and then it kept going. At least I had a little time to adjust to each level.''

Jones admits to being a bit embarrassed, even apologetic, about all the attention, especially her Grammy success. Mention her success, and she'll quickly point out that there were other albums just as worthy as hers.

''I kind of get uncomfortable when people mention it,'' she says with a shy glance. ''I'm not special. It's not like I'm the best.''

In fact, she hasn't even had her trophies delivered by the Record-ing Academy yet.

Jones' failure to claim her trophies in a prompt fashion is indicative of her low-key style. She doesn't go to celebrity events and parties, and refuses to live the life of a superstar, although she's becoming one.

''I'm afraid I'll become some sort of diva,'' she jokes.

She concedes her ''Come Away With Me,'' was a sleepy-sounding disc, and with her self-deprecating humor, describes her stage show as ''boring'' although she gives herself credit for improving her performance since she toured last year.

''I was too self-conscious and I wasn't really paying attention enough, because I was so worried ... And now, I'm a little more laid-back.''

Jones is looking forward to getting out on the road and connecting with her fans and says she's even excited to sing some of the songs she was previously tired of, including ''Don't Know Why.''

''It's funny, all the songs on the record, they've all gone through their roller coasters,'' she says. ''It got like, 'Oh great, everybody likes it!' (Then), 'Oh God, I'm so sick of this song, oh my God please let us stop.' And then it comes back up and it's like, 'Oh, this song's cool, it's fun, so it's kinda cool.'

''It's finally gotten less annoying to play all those songs. I enjoy playing them.''

She has recorded 11 songs for her next album and hopes to release it next year. She describes the music as more up-tempo and funky but still very much Norah Jones.

''When we were making it we were like, 'Wow, this is a way different record! This is like a funky record!'

''And then we listened to it again, and we're like, wow it's still a snoozer,'' she says, laughing. ''I'm just a mellow chick. I can't help it.''

On the Net:

http://www.norahjones.com



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