Husky-voiced Diana Krall has written a new chapter in acoustic jazz improvisation and interpretations of old standards for this generation. Younger jazz musicians do not ordinarily have the mass appeal to sell out tickets in large concert halls; Diana has changed that.
Born in 1965 on Canada's Vancouver Island, Diana Krall was raised on jazz. Both parents were jazz pianists, and she studied piano at age four. The family met at Grandma's to make music; Fats Waller was everyone's idol. Diana drew inspiration from Nat King Cole and from piano-playing singers, particularly Carmen McRae. She played in the school band, but by age 15 had a gig three nights a week in the town of Nanaimo.
At age 16, she won a Vancouver Jazz scholarship to study at Boston's Berklee College of Music for the next year. Afterwards, the Canadian Arts Council awarded her a grant to study with pianist great Jimmy Rowles in L.A. The next few years she bounced between Toronto, Boston, and New York, studying with master jazz musicians and playing in small clubs. She began singing against the rhythm, developing a sultry but pure voice compared most to Julie London. She built a small following and released a few albums.
Trust Your Heart, a 1995 album tribute to Nat King Cole was successful, but All For You in the same year remained in the Top 10 of Billboard's Traditional Jazz Charts for over a year and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz vocals. 1997's Love Scenes, filled with smooth ballads like 'They Can't Take That Away From Me,' also received nominations. Throughout the 1990's, she was building a following beyond jazz lovers.
In 1998, without compromising her style, she wowed audiences at the Lilith Fair - many had never listened to jazz before. Diana Krall reached new levels of popularity with When I Look in Your Eyes, an album with a diverse repertoire ranging from Tin Pan Alley songs of the 20's, 50's hit parade favorites, Billy Joel's 1977 hit 'Just the Way You Are,' and on up through the 90's. Diana's unerring instinct for her own signature songs no matter what the era won Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal performance, Best Non-Classical Engineered Album, and was up for Album of the Year against Santana, the Backstreet Boys, and the Dixie Chicks. Though she didn't win, EVERYONE now knew the name Diana Krall.
2002 was the worst AND best year of Diana's life. Her mother died. Her Live in Paris album earned a Grammy. She met Elvis Costello. Paired as presenters at the Grammies, an artistic spark struck into flame first. They performed together at Willie Nelson's 70th birthday party, and in December 2003 they married.
Elvis inspired Diana to write songs of her own, collaborating with him as primary lyricist. Wintering on Vancouver Island together, Elvis encouraged her to explore a darker musical mood to deal with her mother's death. The resulting highly personal songs together compiled a 2004 release, The Girl in the Other Room. It's more pop than jazz, but fans are not complaining. The voice that can move a listener to tears is there. The purity of sound and melody-line against rhythm are there. And Diana Krall, now age 42, is very much there, beginning her musical prime.