This Jazz Appreciation Month, we rejoice sisters from the one and solely Howard College


Earlier than diving into the music, I need to applaud the contributions of some different notable HU Bison. From the time of its founding in 1867, Howard’s college students, graduates, and school have contributed to our nation’s judicial system (Thurgood Marshall), sciences (E. Franklin Frazier), politics (Ralph Bunche, Edward Brooke, David Dinkins, Elijah Cummings, Andrew Young, and Douglas Wilder) literature (Paul Laurence Dunbar, Zora Neale Hurston, Amiri Baraka, Toni Morrison, and Ta-Nehisi Coates), and the visible and performing arts (Ossie Davis, Billy Eckstine, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Donald Byrd, Jessye Norman, Donny Hathaway, Debbie Allen and her sister Phylicia Rashad, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Chadwick Boseman).

For these of you who might have by no means had the possibility to listen to or see Shirley Horn stay, depend yourselves as unfortunate. I’ll do my greatest to appropriate that in the present day. 

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Shirley Horn was born in Washington, D.C., on Might 1, 1934. Washington was already a jazz city and cultural mecca you’ll be able to examine and expertise, courtesy of Black Broadway on U


In an interview with Jazz Times, Horn talked with Lara Pellegrinelli about her early musical beginnings, which discovered her finding out at Howard College as a tween.

You already know, music is my life. With out it, I’d perish. The very first thing I bear in mind in my life is being about three years previous, nearly 4, going to my grandmother’s parlor and enjoying this huge previous piano … She performed piano and organ, by ear … Mama [her grandmother] performed hymns in church. She was a very brief factor and it was onerous for her to succeed in the pedals on the organ. After I acquired married, at any time when I had a celebration with my associates, she’d come over and play the piano on the social gathering. All my musician associates beloved her. She was a pricey woman.

“And he or she instructed my mom to present me piano classes. I used to be solely 4 years previous—I couldn’t learn or write—however this man took me: Mr. Fletcher, I even bear in mind his identify. Possibly he’s nonetheless residing? Effectively, he took me so far as he might. However by the point I used to be about 11 years previous, my uncle, who was a really wealthy physician right here on the town, went to Howard College and began the junior faculty of music as a result of there have been no academics left who might train me something. I went to high school after which I went to Howard College on daily basis. It wasn’t something like it’s now. I needed to get on the streetcar and go as much as the college to this previous home. That they had a constructing, a particular constructing that had the Steinway piano.”

She talks quietly, pausing right here and there to maintain the info straight. “The trainer I bear in mind there most is Dr. Frances Hughes,” she goes on after a minute of thought. “I’ll always remember her. I used to be afraid of her at first, however I revered her as a result of she was a optimistic trainer. You already know what I imply? She began me proper off with Chopin. Didn’t give me any little dingle-ingle-ingle stuff. And I beloved it.”

That love of music would earn Horn a scholarship to the Julliard Faculty in New York—a scholarship she didn’t take due to the fee, in addition to her mom’s concern about her going too removed from house. So as an alternative she went to Howard College, the place she shifted from classical music to an curiosity in jazz. By the point she was 20, she had fashioned her personal jazz trio.

Her debut album was Embers and Ashes, launched in 1961. Right here she is, effortlessly singing “I Thought About You,” a 1939 track composed by Jimmy Van Heusen, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Embers and Ashes would result in a life-changing occasion for Horn, as Rashod D. Ollison wrote for the Baltimore Sun.

Newly married on the time to (Shep) Deering, a dark-eyed, good-looking man she met at D.C.’s Atlas Theatre, Horn was visiting her mother-in-law in Virginia when she acquired an odd name.

“We have been in Danville someplace out on my mother-in-law’s farm,” Horn recollects. “The telephone rang and it was for me. I did not know who it was. I mentioned, ‘Hiya.'” Imitating Davis’ raspy voice, she continues: “‘Shirley? That is Miles Davis. I acquired some people I need you to satisfy in New York.’ I mentioned, ‘Who is that this?’ I believed it was a joke.”

Horn mulled over the invitation for a day or so earlier than she went to Davis’ house in New York, the place she discovered his youngsters singing the songs on Embers and Ashes. King of New York’s jazz scene on the time, Davis had organized for Horn to share the invoice with him on the Village Vanguard, a revered venue in Greenwich Village. It was a prestigious gig for a newcomer like Horn. The membership proprietor, Max Gordon, did not even know who she was.

“Miles insisted that I play on the invoice,” Horn says. “If I did not play, he wasn’t gonna play, both.”

Give a hearken to that younger Horn, stay in 1961; the album was initially mislabeled and launched as Shirley Horn Live at the Village Vanguard, although it was truly recorded on the Gaslight Sq. in St. Louis. It was was later re-released with the right title. From that album, right here’s Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale.” 

However, as Andrew Gilbert wrote in February, three many years would go earlier than the album that modified the course of Horn’s profession.

Shirley Horn was barely a cult determine the primary time I noticed her carry out Might 8, 1989, at her Kuumbwa Jazz Middle debut. The expertise was transformative, and at the same time as a relative newcomer I knew that Horn was an artist of the best order. It wasn’t simply the way in which that her ballads appeared to defy the circulation of time, every beat suspended on her drummer’s feathery brush strokes. Or her telegraphic piano work, which enfolded her burnished, coppery vocals with piquantly ringing harmonies. Horn remade every track in that Santa Cruz efficiency along with her inimitable sound, a bracing mix of vulnerability, aching sensuality, and imperious command.

The thriller was why, in her mid-50s, she’d but to interrupt via. Horn had launched a handful of albums within the first half of the Nineteen Sixties, then spent nearly a decade with out recording and infrequently performing exterior of Washington, D.C., whereas elevating her daughter. Releasing 4 glorious albums for the revered Danish label Steeplechase from 1979-85 didn’t do a lot to lift her profile within the U.S., however Horn, who died in 2005 on the age of 71, wasn’t destined for obscurity.

Richard Seidel signed her to Verve in 1987 as a part of the vaunted label’s revitalization, and after a few well-received albums they stumble on a really perfect recipe to showcase Horn’s singular expertise. With a bevy of visitor artists, together with longtime followers Toots Thielemans and Miles Davis, Horn’s prophetically titled album “You Received’t Overlook Me” got here out 30 years in the past on Feb. 12, 1991, remodeling her from a hidden treasure into one in all jazz’s greatest stars.

Right here’s the exceptional title observe from You Received’t Overlook Me.

Davis died seven months after its launch. 

Following the success of You Received’t Overlook Me, Horn then recorded Right here’s to Life.

The title observe affords the form of optimism we are able to use proper now. 

Horn’s crowning profession achievement passed off in 1998.


From her 1998 GRAMMY award-winning albumI Bear in mind Miles, right here she is with “Blue and Inexperienced.”

Horn died on Oct. 20, 2005, and music critic Ben Ratliff wrote her New York Times obituary

Shirley Horn, a jazz singer and pianist who drew audiences shut with a powerfully confidential, vibratoless supply, died yesterday at a nursing house in Cheverly, Md. She was 71.

Ms. Horn was a singular singer, with one of many slowest deliveries in jazz and a really uncommon means of phrasing, placing stress on sure phrases and letting others slip away. She cherished her repertory, making audiences really feel that she was slicing via to the stark truths of songs like “This is to Life” and “You Will not Overlook Me.” She wished issues simply so: she caught along with her drummer, Steve Williams, for 23 years, and her bassist, Charles Ables — who died in 2002 — for 33.

She lived all her life in and round Washington, typically performing near house to be close to her household. However during the last 20 years she loved a quietly increasing revival of the live performance and membership profession she had begun within the 1950’s, and he or she turned a star within the jazz world.

In 2016—over a decade after her demise—Downbeat introduced a new Horn release.

Stay At The 4 Queens was recorded a couple of 12 months after Horn’s milestone 1987 album I Thought About You (Verve), which was seen because the “comeback” document that reignited her worldwide touring profession after a virtually 20-year hiatus—throughout which she centered totally on elevating her daughter in her hometown of Washington, D.C.

The album features a 56-page guide documenting Horn’s life and profession, that includes interviews performed by Resonance Information producer Zev Feldman, who topped the Rising Star—Producer class of the 2016 DownBeat Critics Ballot. Extra essays have been contributed by journalist James Gavin, producers Jean-Philippe Allard and Richard Seidel, longtime Horn drummer Steve Williams, singer Sheila Jordan, jazz radio veteran Rusty Hassan, KNPR engineer Brian Sanders, supervisor Sheila Mathis and Horn’s daughter, Wet Smith.

With 9 tracks and greater than 50 minutes of music, Stay At The 4 Queens options Horn’s interpretations of widespread songs, together with “You’d Be So Good To Come Dwelling To,” “The Boy From Ipanema” (Horn’s spin on the Antonio Carlos Jobim basic), “Isn’t It Romantic?,” “Lover Man” and others.

Zev Feldman, talks about his journey producing the album within the following mini-doc.

I’ll shut with one in all my favourite Horn performances, stay in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1999.

Keep tuned for extra music from Howard’s gifted piano and vocals girls subsequent Sunday, and be part of me within the feedback for much more Shirley Horn.