For more than 40 years, Shirley Horn has reigned as one of the world's premier jazz vocalists and pianists. Her singing once inspired a critic to write "Shirley Horn fuses voice and piano into a single expression." Her latest album is "You're My Thrill."
It sure helps sometimes to have friends in high places. In 1960, just after the release of her Shirley Horn's debut album "Embers and Ashes," trumpeter Miles Davis invited her to open for him at the Village Vanguard in New York. Davis was so insistent that he told the club owner that he wouldn't play if Horn didn't perform. Of course, Horn went on that night, singing to a star-studded audience.
Shirley Horn learned to play piano in her grandmother's parlor. She attended Howard University's School of Music in her native Washington, D.C., taking courses in classical piano. But her first love has always been jazz.
The best was yet to come for Shirley Horn, as her career began taking off in the 1960s. After several successful recording dates with producer Quincy Jones, she made a steady living performing with her trio.
When Verve Records coaxed her out of semi-retirement in the mid-1980s, Horn discovered she was more popular than ever. In 1992 she worked with arranger and composer Johnny Mandel on the all-ballad album "Here's To Life," which soared to Number One on Billboard's jazz chart.
Horn's first choice for producer and arranger on her new album was none other than Mandel. Horn calls him her favorite arranger, saying "We think alike. It's almost as if he's reading my mind."
At age 66, Horn continues to attract some of today's finest musicians. Among those heard on "You're My Thrill," guitarist Russell Malone, drummer Steve Williams and bass players Charles Ables and Brian Bromberg.
Shirley Horn's current concert tour includes shows in Santa Barbara, California, Boston, Oakland and Los Angeles. She'll appear at the Jazz Northwest Festival in Hood River, Oregon in September.
"Sharing The Night With The Blues," by Emanuel Logan, appears on Horn's new album on Verve Records titled "You're My Thrill."