Grammy Award winner Norah Jones adorned the stage with her wondrous talent at the TD Ottawa Jazz Fest last night. The venue this year was in Marion Dewar Plaza and was filled to capacity for this show.
The daughter of concert promoter Sue Jones and legendary sitar player Ravi Shankar, Jones had a cornucopia of music genres and a plenitude of influences at her fingertips. She was a natural and as early as 5, she knew that music was going to be her pursuit. She started out singing in church choirs and continued to work hard. Jones learned the piano, saxophone and took vocal lessons throughout her high school and college years. Freshly out of school, she plunged into her art and set sail with her 2002 debut album, Come Away With Me. To date, it has sold over to 27 million copies worldwide. She took the music industry by the horns following that release and has been consistent in putting out albums regularly and growing her fan base in all corners of the world.
Jones has numerous achievements, accolades and eclectic collaborations, with legends such as Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong. She took part in the “Hank Williams project” with Bob Dylan at the helm and recently formed a country-pop all women’s band (Puss n Boots).
Jones is indeed a legend in the making. She incorporates multiple genres in her compositions, creating a fondue-pot of blues, country, soul and pop. A Midas touch in how she appeals to various musical tastes. Touring internationally, recording solo and with other groups, Jones is a non-stop musical dynamo.
Earlier today at the fest, the weather was not cooperative. The sky was full of thick gray clouds and sparse showers were driving some of the spectators away. None the less, most of the crowd braved the rain to reserve their spots for the shows and especially, its seems, for Jones. The lucky early comers sat closely up front in their portable lawn chairs patiently waiting for Jones to make her entrance.
Jones was veritably laid back and grounded as she casually entered the stage and greeted her audience. She sat at the piano and opened her set with“Just a Little Bit”, off her latest compilation. When the song ended she said “two new songs, two old songs”… then proceeded to play “It Was You”, off the same album.
She genuinely played tribute to her major influences, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday when she sang such songs as “Come Away With Me” and “Carry On”. The official video for “Carry On” has over nine million views!
When she did “Sunrise”, and her cover of Jesse Harris & The Ferdinandos’“Don’t Know Why” off her chart-topping debut, the fans cheered her on and sang along. She certainly has a flair for doing covers in such that she makes them her own. Jones’ voice was pitch perfect on every note and the tranquility and sweetness of her songs created the perfect relaxing atmosphere.
Although she didn’t speak more than three times during her performance, Jones connected with her fans and made them laugh when she sang “Song With No Name” and she pointed out into the crowd as she sang the words “do I love you too much”. The audience felt her warmth with that gesture and as small and subtle as the gesture was, it was enough. She commented on the how the weather turned and said, “it’s not raining this is true and I’m happy to be here”. She laughed softly and then continued with her set.
As the Ottawa festival’s focus is on woman this year, it was only appropriate for her to sing “Don’t Know What It Means” by her all female band, Puss n Boots. We could really hear the country and blues influences in this song and some of her other selections tonight, like “Travelin’ On”, “Lonestar” and “Carry On.” Jones’ diversification of covers and songs brings her loads of appreciation from her fans. Her performance was a spectacular mixed bag of jazz, blues, country and pop, which few artists can pull off as seamlessly as she did.