My goodness I cannot tell you how much I loved the music of Shirley
Horn. Such a sweet and beautiful woman. I was in San Francisco this
past weekend and was speaking with Dianne Reeves who told me
about Shirley's passing. I said that it was a tragedy and she corrected
reminding me of all the beautiful music she has left for an eternity. I
went to see Dee Dee Bridgewater perform that night at Yoshi's and she
too was overcome by the loss of our giant heroine songstress. She sang
beautifully and gave tribute to the one she also adored. We all loved
Click picture above to hear Shirley recall her first conversation with Miles Davis!
I had the pleasure of being introduced to Shirley after a performance
in Los Angeles at the “Cinegrill”. This cabaret setting was the most
perfect of circumstances to see, hear and feel Shirley perform. It was
so intimate, so warm and so full of love stories from Shirley.
Afterwards, she came over to the bar near where I was
sitting. My friend Dale introduced us and Shirley
immediately started flirting. I had such a big smile because
instantly I felt close to her and knew that I had a new friend.
Click picture above to hear Shirley talk about her grandmother's piano playing
After the performance that night, I went with Dale to pick up some food she had cooked for the band. We brought it back to the
hotel and went up to one of the musician's rooms to eat. Shirley was
tired and decided not to come up, but we all continued to talk, share,
eat and laugh about jazz music while listening to stories from the cats
about playing with Shirley.
Click picture above to hear Shirley, Steve Williams, A.B. Spellman and Richard Seidel talk about Shirley's music
Steve Williams, Shirley's drummer for many years, is a funny cat. We
were all up in the room listening to a little tiny hotel radio that was
playing some great jazz. I was working with the jazz station 88.1 KLON
FM at the time and the DJ that night was playing some Wayne Shorter and
Steve was commenting on the tune. I called in to the station on the
hotline to talk to the DJ that night and told him that everyone from
Shirley's band was diggin' what he was playing. Steve had no idea I
made the call and the DJ decided to give a shout out and play some
Shirley. He put on “Estate”. We were all talking so loud that we did
not hear the shout out, but Steve said, “Wait,wait, listen.They're
playing Shirley on the radio!” He was elated for a moment and then he
looked over at me and said, “Man, you called that in” and we all had
the biggest laugh!!
Click picture above to hear Shirley recall the beginning of her singing career.
I called Shirley “Queen of Quiet Power”. She performed with Dianne
Reeves at the Hollywood Bowl and at the Masonic Hall in San Francisco a few years back and both places were absolutely
silent! She was a woman whose presence commanded respect and we all
will continue to love and miss her dearly.
Click picture above to hear Shirley describe her transition from classical to jazz
I recently was a guest host on a jazz television show called, “Jazz in
the Modern Era,” where I programmed all of the music for the show. That
night, Chet Hanley and I played a video from one of Shirley's
performances and I spoke
for all jazz lovers when I told her and the world that I loved her. I
heard rumors, but had no idea that she was so ill. I guess that was my
final gift to the wonderful lady who sang her love stories so well.
Farewell, Shirley, you will be in our hearts, souls and ears forever!
picture above to view 3hr TV show where, towards the end, LeRoy Downs
gives tribute to Shirley and plays some footage from one of her
Below is the history of Shirley Horn
We have lost a remarkable woman…Shirley Horn, the
A true innovator. Nobody could sing as soft as Shirley.
majoring in music at Howard University, Horn put together her first trio
in 1954. Miles Davis invited her to open for him at the Village Vanguard
in 1960, an engagement which led to a recording contract with Mercury
Records and a life-long friendship with Davis. Quincy Jones became an
admirer and mentor of Horn's during this period, and produced two of her
albums: Loads Of Love (Mercury, 1963) and Shirley Horn with Horns
(Mercury, 1963). After parting ways with the label over creative
differences, she recorded a number of albums for the Danish Steeplechase
label which cemented her reputation as a singular talent. Horn was a
devoted wife and mother, so much so that she eschewed touring for many
years and instead chose to perform primarily in clubs around the D.C.
and Baltimore area.
In 1986, she signed with Verve and made a series of critically-acclaimed
albums which significantly raised her profile and exposed her to a new
generation of jazz fans. During her tenure with Verve, she released
fourteen albums and was honored with eight Grammy nominations. She was
elected to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Hall of Fame in in 1996, and in 1998,
she won the Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for her tribute to
Miles Davis, I Remember Miles. In 1999, she received the Phineas
Newborn, Jr. Award, along with a tribute concert in her honor. Other
honors include a 2003 Jazz at Lincoln Center Award for Artistic
Excellence, an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music and
inclusion in ASCAP's Wall of Fame as the 2005 Living Legend. In late
2004, Horn was honored at the Kennedy Center with an all-star tribute
concert and was named 2005 NEA Jazz Master, the nation's highest honor
for jazz musicians.