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Shirley Valerie Horn was born in Washington D.C. in 1934. Shirley was a preternaturally gifted pianist who became enamored with the famous U Street jazz area of Washington (destroyed in the 1968 riots), slipping into jazz clubs before she was of legal age. Horn would collaborate with many jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Toots Thielemans, Carmen McRae, and Wynton Marsalis to name a few. She was famous for being a devastating ballad singer with a smokey and lush voice and for an amazing ability to accompany herself with incomparable independence on the piano while singing. Arranger Johnny Mandel described her as “like having two heads”. Kitty Grime, in her book Jazz Voices, calls Shirley “the cult performer…A near-legendary figure.”
Horn’s association with Miles Davis lasted for thirty years and notable for his public praise of her musicianship, a rare occurrence coming from Davis especially as early as the 1950s and 1960s. Horn would record for Mercury and Impulse and was popular with critics but did not achieve mainstream success, stating “I will not stoop to conquer”. How beautiful a notion!
Recorded during an all night 1987 session in the dining room of a good friend’s 18th Century farm house in Glenn Dale, Maryland, this week’s top tune is one she would often perform live. A bluesy rendition of Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh’s “My How The Time Goes By” also recorded by Bill Henderson, one of Shirley’s favorite male singers in 1961.
Contact & Licensing Info
Publishing controlled by Notable Music Co. ASCAP (Cy Coleman)
Contact: Damon Boothfirstname.lastname@example.org
Administered by Downtown Music Publishing
Contact: Sean McGrawemail@example.com
Publishing controlled by Edwin H. Morris Co. ASCAP (Carolyn Leigh)
Administered by MPL Communications Inc.
Master controlled by Audiophile Records.