Oprah: We're here in a Jewish community center where you used to play that very piano for 20 people once a month.
Norah: I think it was only five people! Within a year, it grew to ten, then to 12—at the end, there was actually a good-size crowd.
Oprah: And didn't you consider it a great gig because it paid?
Norah: Yes. And since there was no cover charge, my friends could come—all five of them.
Oprah: I heard you made $300 for a performance.
Norah: Yes, but for the whole band.
Oprah: And that was considered doing pretty well?
Norah: For me it was—that was after living here for two years and playing five-hour jazz piano solo gigs for 50 bucks. This was a lot better. They fed us and gave us breaks. They had a sound technician and equipment on hand so we didn't have to bring anything with us.
Oprah: And two years before this gig, you were waiting tables.
Oprah: So was it surreal to be sitting at the Grammys and hear your name called?
Norah: Very surreal. I wasn't even that nervous because I felt like I was in a dream.
Oprah: When you were playing here, was a Grammy ever part of your vision for yourself?
Norah: No. I'd done recordings, little demos, since I was in college, which I used to get gigs. But I never thought I'd have a record label. That wasn't part of my plan yet.
Oprah: What was your plan?
Norah: I was just trying to find my musical direction. I'd been singing straight-ahead jazz, and three years ago, that was all I wanted to do. Then I began writing songs and playing with my friends, and I started getting into country music again. I was also singing in this acid-jazz band. I was just trying to decide—
Oprah: Where your voice was best suited and what felt like the truth for you?