Grammy award-winning jazz star Diana Krall was just 15 when she started her musical career, playing piano for diners at restaurants in her British Columbian hometown. It wasn't long, however, before the youngster's prodigious gift drew the attention of musicians accustomed to working with jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Peggy Lee.
Born on November 16, 1964, in Nanaimo, BC, to parents Jim and Adella, Diana, like her younger sister Michelle, was surrounded by music from an early age. The girls would spend Sundays listening to their grandmother sing, while their mother and father took turns to accompany her on the piano. And at the age of four Diana was enrolled in classical piano classes by her parents, who were clearly keen to have her follow in their footsteps.
Influenced by the sounds of Nat King Cole, Bill Evans and Frank Sinatra broadcast on old radio shows, by the time she entered high school 15-year-old Diana was playing in a student jazz group. And the talented teen was soon being invited to play restaurant gigs around her hometown.
After graduating in 1983 from Boston's Berklee College Of Music, for which she landed a scholarship, Diana returned to Nanaimo where her piano playing caught the attention of Grammy-winning composer Ray Brown, ex-husband of the late Ella Fitzgerald.
And it was after Ray and his drummer pal Jeff Hamilton convinced her to move to Los Angeles and study with famed pianist Jimmy Rowles that Diana's career as a chanteuse kicked off. Jimmy, a renowned musician who often played back-up for Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee and Ella, soon had her singing, too.
Diana spent three years in LA honing her vocal skills before moving to New York in 1990 to immerse herself in the city's famous jazz scene. It was a fruitful decision, leading to the release of three albums between 1993 and 1996.
Professional recognition was not long in coming. Her third album All For You: A Dedication To The Nat King Cole Trio
, which ranked in the Billboard jazz charts for staggering 70 weeks, pulled a Grammy nod in 1996. And more plaudits were to follow. Her 1999 effort When I Look Into Your Eyes
garnered more Grammy nominations and delivered a best jazz musician of the year gong.
The year 2000 brought a career highlight when the then 36-year-old accompanied veteran crooner Tony Bennett on a 20-city tour. "Tony Bennett taught me how important emotional directness is in music," Diana later revealed, adding: "It's all about how you communicate. You tell a story, but you leave it open to personal interpretation."
A more local honour came her way the same year when she received the Order of British Columbia for her contribution to Canadian culture and in recognition of her role as a goodwill ambassador for the region.
Her first solo world tour kicked off in September 2001 and delivered the Live In Paris
album, which was recorded on the road. The disc made the top five in the Canadian charts while bringing a second Grammy and a Juno Award.
On December 6, 2003, Diana married British singer Elvis Costello at Elton John's Berkshire estate outside Windsor. And the couple became partners in work as well as life when Elvis helped his new bride compose her own songs for the 2004 album The Girl In The Other Room
. Among that year's landmark events was Diana's induction into Canada's Walk Of Fame in Toronto.
Three years to the day after their 2003 wedding, on December 6, 2006, the couple welcomed twin sons Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James. "I'm happier, more joyful," revealed the singer in the wake of the birth.