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.

Norah: Part-time.

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?

Norah: Yes.


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