Come Away with Me: 2002–2004
Jones was a lounge singer before becoming a recording artist. She played with artists and bands including Wax Poetic and the Peter Malick Group. She performed frequently with guitarist Charlie Hunter in 2001.
Jones' debut album, Come Away with Me, debuted in February 2002 and was instantly celebrated for its blending of mellow, acoustic pop with soul and jazz. It hit number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, with the single "Don't Know Why" hitting number one on the Top 40 Adult Recurrents in 2003 and #30 in the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. It won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards. She made a cameo appearance in the 2002 movie Two Weeks Notice playing the piano and singing "The Nearness of You" at the fundraiser.
Feels like Home: 2004–2006
Jones released a second album, Feels like Home, on February 9, 2004. Rather than repeat the softer, jazz mood of Come Away with Me, her second album was influenced by Country music. Within a week of its release, Feels like Home had sold over a million copies, making it the highest-selling album in the history of Blue Note Records. Jones toured globally again, to promote the album with the Handsome Band, and the addition of backing singer Daru Oda. Time magazine included Jones on the Time 100, a list of the most influential people of 2004. "Feels Like Home" debuted at number-one in most countries around the world and has sold 13 million copies.
Not Too Late: 2006–2008
Jones' third album, Not Too Late, was released by Blue Note Records on January 30, 2007. The album is her first for which she wrote or co-wrote every song, and according to her, some of them are much darker than those on her previous albums. Not Too Late was mostly recorded at Jones's home studio and is the first album Jones recorded without producer Arif Mardin, who died in the summer of 2006. Jones described the sessions as "fun, relaxed and easy" and without a deadline; executives at Blue Note Records reportedly did not know they were recording an album. The song "My Dear Country" is political commentary; she wrote it before the United States Presidential election day in 2004.
Not Too Late reached the #1 position in twenty countries. It is the third best first week album sales of 2007 after Avril Lavigne's third album The Best Damn Thing and Linkin Park's third album Minutes to Midnight. The album became the 800th album to reach the top spot on the UK chart. It also reached #1 in the U.S. with 405,000 copies sold. According to a press release from EMI, Not Too Late is certified gold or platinum in twenty-one countries as of February 2007. The album has sold 5 million copies worldwide.