THE PRO FILE - Jesse Harris

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Photo by Martine Langatta

Photo by Martine Langatta

He soared to worldwide fame writing monster hits like "Don't Know Why" on Norah Jones' breakout album Come Away With Me. Since then, he's toured as a solo artist and collaborated with artists like Kandace Springs, Madeleine Peyroux, Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot and many others. Get to know singer and songwriter Jesse Harris.

Tell us about your musical background.

The piano was my first instrument. I started at 10, but then I switched to guitar at age 17 when I began writing songs. I did not go to music school. I learned mostly from other musicians.

When you were coming-up as a musician, what kinds of things were you listening to and getting inspired by?

Growing up in New York, I was exposed to music of all kinds - rock, jazz, reggae, punk. My main inspirations as a songwriter were Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington and Bill Frisell.

You’re probably best known for writing some of Norah Jones’ biggest hits. How did that association come about?

We met in 1998 when I was driving cross-country with a friend and stopped to visit some other friends performing at her school. She was studying piano and voice at the University of North Texas in Denton. A few weeks later, I sent her a lead sheet (by U.S. Mail) of a song called "One Flight Down" that ended up on her first record.

What kinds of keyboard gear do you gravitate to and why?

I'm open to anything. Quite often in the studio, I use the Casio keyboard that I got for Christmas when i was 13. It's so versatile and hard to identify.

If someone walked into your home studio, what would they see?

Not much! Some guitars, a Wurly, a bass, some percussion, and an upright piano.

What do you think the secret to your success is?

Going with the flow, I suppose - enjoying music and playing different roles in different projects. 

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