She attended the same arts-oriented high school in Dallas, Texas that soul singer Erykah Badu did: Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Jones considers herself a fan of "old music." She cites Bill Evans, Billie Holliday, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles as examples. That type of music, she says, "is just so badass and original."
She plays with a trio that consists of guitarist Adam Levy, bassist Lee Alexander, and drummer Andy Borger. Alexander is her current boyfriend. She has also played with the funk-fusion group Wax Poetic. She was also a member of Laszlo in North Texas.
Although today she makes her music with her voice and a piano, she began her musical career in junior high with the alto saxophone.
Jones briefly attended the music program at the University of North Texas before moving to New York City after two years there.
On the night of her 21st birthday, she was heard by music-industry accountant Shell White, who got her demo to the President of Blue Note Records, the famous jazz record label. Soon, she was signed.
She is the daughter of Ravi Shankar, a famous Indian musician known for teaching George Harrison how to play the sitar. He is 59 years older than Norah, and was estranged from her most of her life. She has seen him infrequently and although they still keep in touch, she doesn't like to be thought of as "Ravi Shankar's daughter." Jones' mother is a New York concert promoter named Sue Jones.
Her cuss phrase of choice is "Suck my ass," which she knows in Dutch and German.
On her first album, there are guest appearances by jazz guitarist Bill Frisell and session drummer Brian Blade.
At the Grammys in 2003, she won all 5 awards she was nominated for. Her acceptance speeches were not all smooth. At one point she banged the award into the microphone, and while accepting the Best New Artist Grammy, she accidentally said "S--t."
She formed a Country side project with boyfriend Lee Alexander called "The Little Willies", a tribute (kind of) to Willie Nelson. They play several cover tunes and some originals. One of the most humorous is, "Lou Reed": "You may think I'm trippin' but I swear I saw Lou Reed cowtippin'." (thanks, Lee - Mobile, AL)