Om Norah Jones
This young singer and pianist has so much talent that she can't be contained by one genre of music. The American-born, Texas-bred daughter of Indian music legend Ravi Shankar has after-hours jazz, soul, country, blues and folk music at her command, and combines each with natural, dreamy ease. It's almost as if Rickie Lee Jones or Diana Krall were recording for an absinthe-soaked 4AD label that specialized in Americana. Some of our greatest artists -- from Frank Sinatra to Ray Charles, from Elvis to the Beatles -- were genres onto themselves, and it's refreshing to see a performer as young as Jones craft her own sound and style. Blue Note Records signed her in hopes of slowly building her into the kind of crossover jazz success that the Verve label has enjoyed with Diana Krall and Cassandra Wilson. But it didn't turn out quite that way: the buzz around Jones's debut, 2002's Come Away With Me, was so enthusiastic that the album eventually became one of the biggest sellers of the new millennium. Blue Note wisely chose not to try to make her even more successful and left Jones and her band to their own devices for 2004's Feels Like Home, a slightly darker return to the sophisticated but comforting acoustic sound of her debut. Jones and her band avoided the sophomore slump with the album, which hit the gates as a massive hit and further secured her career in music. In early 2007, Jones released Not Too Late, her first all self-penned set. She also performs regularly with other bands and musicians, including the Little Willies, Peter Malick (she appears on every track of his New York Cityalbum), jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter, electronica band Wax Poetic, and a number of her heroes, among them Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.