Not many vocalists could sing ballads in the slow sultry, romantic style as Shirley Horn, also, known as a very accomplished jazz pianist, Horn died Thursday evening (Oct. 20) at a nursing home in Maryland from a prolonged illness with diabetes, she was 71.
Born in 1934, Horn grew up in her home state of Washington, DC where she began playing piano at age four. Later she studied music at Howard University School of Music; Horn also, received a music scholarship to attend Juilliard in New York City however, for financial reasons could not attend.
Eventually, in 1954 Horn formed a trio and recorded her first album "Embers And Ashes." Miles Davis loved the album so much; he extended an invitation for Horn to open for him at the Village Vandguard in New York City. The engagements led to a recording contract with Mercury Records and a lifelong friendship with Miles Davis. Quincy Jones played a significant part in in Horn’s career by producing two of Horn’s albums; "Lords Of Love" and "Shirley Horn With Horns," while at Mercury Records. Horn also had a great opportunity to work with such notable musician as Frank Wess, Joe Newman, Kenny Burrell, Hank Jones, and, many others established jazz artists.
After an extended absence from touring to raise a family, Horn’s fame and fortune grew to new heights in the 1980’s and 1990’s when she released fourteen albums for the Verve label. Horn became one of the most notable and sought after artist gaining admirers at each and every performance. Through the years Horn has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards but, it wasn’t until 1998 that Horn won her first Grammy Award for best Jazz Vocals performance for her tribute to jazz legend Miles Davis, "I Remember Miles."
Horn received many honors and achievements in her lifetime which includes an Artistic Excellence Awards in 2003; Horn was also honored at the Kennedy Center in 2004 with a star-performance tribute and, named a 2005 National Endowment for the Arts, Jazz Master. She is survived by her husband, daughter, and, grandchildren.