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[Herald Interview] Norah Jones aims to soothe COVID-19 blues with first Christmas album

American singer-songwriter Norah Jones (Universal Music Group)
American singer-songwriter Norah Jones (Universal Music Group)
Christmas is just around the corner, but the festive season is more low-key than many hoped for due to rising COVID-19 concerns around the world. To help soothe the COVID-19 blues, American singer-songwriter Norah Jones has released an unexpected gift -- a full-length Christmas album titled “I Dream of Christmas”.

“This album did come out of the very long first year of the pandemic. I needed something to look forward to and a way to be creative that had a little joy baked into it. This was the perfect project for me,” the jazz vocalist said in an email.

“I Dream of Christmas” is Jones’ first holiday album since her debut nearly 20 years ago. A mixture of Christmas classics and originals, the album features her take on The Chipmunks’ “Christmas Don’t Be Late,” “White Christmas,” “Blue Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Christmas Time Is Here,” and more.

For a sense of comfort during a lockdown, Jones found herself listening to James Brown’s “Funky Christmas” and Elvis Presley’s “Christmas Album.” Then she came up with the idea of releasing her first Christmas album, not just as a gift for listeners and her fans around the globe, but to comfort herself in the time of coronavirus.

“Christmas music has that nostalgic thing to it that is very comforting, especially the older you get. (The album’s producer) Leon (Michels) and I had a great Christmas playlist going back and forth with some amazing inspiration on it. Duke Ellington’s ‘Sugar Rum Cherry’ is one that comes to mind,” she said.

While Christmas brings about nostalgia, it is also a beautiful and magical time of the year that is something to look forward to, according to Jones.

Album cover of “I Dream of Christmas” by Norah Jones (Universal Music Group)
Album cover of “I Dream of Christmas” by Norah Jones (Universal Music Group)
While there are many amazing and classic Christmas songs, the musician chose her all-time-favorites that she wanted to sing the most and “everything fell into place,” the singer-songwriter said.

The musician also participated in writing six of the 13 songs on the album. She feels the most attached to the first track “Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones),” and the song helped inform the whole album with the “longing for Christmas spirit and missing friends who feel like family,” she said.

Having debuted in 2002 with her first studio album “Come Away with Me,” the artist will celebrate her 20th year in music next year. The nine-time Grammy award winner has sold more than 50 million albums and her songs have been streamed six billion times worldwide.

While the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic forced her to cancel her US tour plans last year, the singer is planning on a nationwide tour next summer. She also hopes to visit Korea again, where she has performed in 2005, 2012 and 2017.

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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