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Come away with Norah, minus papa

London, Jan. 19: A big push is being made in Britain to market Norah Jones, the American singer regarded as one of the most exciting new musical talents in the world, but with one qualification. “She doesn’t want to talk about her father,” warned Chris Latham, spokesman for Parlophone, one of the EMI labels.

Photographs of Jones, who is the daughter of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar by Sue Jones, an American woman, have appeared all over London to reflect the astonishing popularity of her debut album Come Away with Me.

The CD is described as “soft edged and slow-paced, soothing and inviting, bittersweet with equal measures of wistfulness and reverie”.

The album, released in the US by Blue Note, another EMI label, has reached number one in the charts in America this week, “which is amazing, 46 weeks after its release”, said Latham.

He added: “It has sold six million units across the world, including three million in the US. In Britain, it has sold nearly a million.”

It is unclear whether Jones is reluctant to discuss her father because she does not want Ravi Shankar’s family to claim credit for her fame or she feels it would take the focus away from her musical talents.

Now 23, the singer/songwriter/pianist was born in New York in 1979 and grew up in Texas.

According to the well-informed Reynold d’Silva, whose company Silva Screen Records sells mainly film music, “Norah Jones probably feels her father did not have much of an influence on her musical development. But maybe, if you believe in that, there is something in the genes.”

Jones is certainly a rising star on both sides of the Atlantic. She has received three nominations in the Brit Awards: International Female, International Album and International Breakthrough.

This is positively modest compared with the eight nominations she has received for the Grammy Awards in the US, where her album was the only one to receive entries in all the three key areas, namely Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Album of the Year.

Last year, Jones was heralded by the magazine, Rolling Stone, as one of the 10 Artists to Watch in an article headlined ‘Jazz Nerd becomes Piano Seductress’. Similarly, Entertainment Weekly singled her out as one of the Brand New Heavies.

Her fame has spread after numerous appearances on TV shows such as David Letterman’s. She has also been featured on the cover of Vanity Fair’s annual music issue.

One critic, Chris Willman, described the effect of listening to her music: “Jones instantly became our sultry siren of song, reviving the ideal of the wounded romantic who spends the wee hours pining and being pined for — Frank and Ava rolled into one romantic package.”

Jones has been modest. She told an interviewer: “You know, I have been lucky. I have the fortune of being surrounded by people who don’t want to exploit me, who love music and don’t want to cash in. That’s the fortune that a lot of people haven’t had.”

In interviews, Jones has said: “I have seen my father on a regular basis and we have a good relationship. My father’s fame doesn’t really have a lot to do with my record or my music but he’s a great musician.”

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