Jesse Harris (photo Martine Langatta)
(SOUTH EGREMONT, Mass.) – Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Jesse Harris – best known for penning Norah Jones’s breakthrough hit, “Don’t Know Why,” performs with his band at the Barn at the Egremont Village Inn on Saturday, March 24, at 8pm.
Originally from New York City, Jesse Harris is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer of artists from all over the world. He has been making records since the mid-1990s, when he started in the group Once Blue on EMI Records. It was his first experience writing for another singer, lead vocalist Rebecca Martin. Combining folk, jazz and pop, the group defined a direction for Harris that would see its greatest succeed in his subsequent work with Norah Jones.
As a solo artist since then, Harris has released 13 albums, including many with his former backing band The Ferdinandos and one all-instrumental recording (“Cosmo”). His brand-new album, “Music for Chameleons,” finds him again with Will Graefe (guitar) and Jeremy Gustin (drums) of Star Rover, as well as Jesse Carmichael (keys), of Maroon 5, and Jason Lader (bass). Special guests include Petra Haden on backing vocals and Brazilian string arranger Maycon Ananias, who played all the keyboards and arranged the strings on Harris’s 2012 release, “Sub Rosa.”
In 2003, Harris received the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for Norah Jones’s breakout hit “Don’t Know Why,” from her debut album, “Come Away With Me,” which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Four other Harris compositions appeared on it, including “Shoot The Moon,” “One Flight Down,” “I’ve Got To See You Again,” and “The Long Day Is Over,” and he played guitar throughout the album.
Since then, Jones and Harris have collaborated many times. She duets with him on “What Makes You” from his album “The Secret Sun” and sings harmonies on several others. Harris appears as guitarist on almost all of her albums, contributing songwriting to “The Fall,” and producing her version of his song “World of Trouble” for the Ethan Hawke film “The Hottest State.” That soundtrack features not only Harris’s score but new versions of his songs recorded by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Cat Power, Feist, The Black Keys, M. Ward, Brad Mehldau, Bright Eyes (on whose album “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” Harris also appears as guitarist), and others.
Recently Harris and Jones appeared together in the Amy Poehler/Paul Rudd comedy “They Came Together,” performing his song “It Was The Last Thing On Your Mind,” also produced by Harris.
Other artists who have covered his material include Kandace Springs, Smokey Robinson, Sasha Dobson (whose album “Modern Romance” he co-produced with Richard Julian), George Benson, Pat Metheny, and Solomon Burke, on whose album “Like a Fire” Harris also plays guitar and sings backing vocals. Songwriting collaborations have included Madeleine Peyroux, Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Maria Gadu, and Vinicius Cantuaria.
In 2013, Harris joined John Zorn’s The Song Project, along with Mike Patton and Sofia Rei, writing lyrics for various Zorn compositions and singing them at festivals worldwide with an all-star band that featured Marc Ribot on guitar, John Medeski on keyboards, and Zorn conducting. Two albums of the group have been released.
Since then, production credits include albums for Julian Lage, Forro in the Dark, and Petra Haden, who recorded an entire album of Harris’s songs, entitled “Seemed Like a Good Idea – Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris” (Sunnyside Records). Harris and Haden toured in support of that release.