October 23, 2005

Jazz Vocalist Shirley Horn Dies at 71

Snapshots In My Time...
Of My Time.....Hauntings.

Grammy-winning jazz vocalist and pianist Shirley Horn died Thursday at a nursing home outside Washington, D.C. She was 71.

Horn began her career in the 1950s -- and made it big when she opened for Miles Davis in New York City in 1960. Davis, notoriously suspicious of singers, was in love with Horn's whispery voice.

She went on to top the Billboard jazz charts and win virtually every major jazz award, including a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance in 1998. It was for her tribute album to her mentor, Davis.

Some of her heartfelt ballads included "The Very Thought of You," "My Heart Stood Still" and "I Got Lost in His Arms."

Horn did not set out to be a singer. "It was an accident," she explains. "What I remember first in my life is playing the piano. That's when I was four years old. I'd go to my grandmother's home. She had a parlor with a great big piano. The parlor was for company, and it was closed off with French doors. It was always cold, but I didn't want to do anything but just go in there and sit on the piano stool. I wasn't interested in playing with the kids outside. After several years of this my grandmother told my mother to get me lessons."

Horn discovered the allure of her singing when, at seventeen, she was playing in a local restaurant/night club. "One night close to Christmas, this older gentleman who would regularly come in for dinner came with a teddy bear as tall as I. Somehow I knew that was for me," she recalls. Indeed, the patron sent her a note saying "If you sing 'Melancholy Baby' the teddy bear is yours." "I was very shy and it was hard for me to sing," Horn says, "but I wanted that teddy bear." More here!

I will be loading her last cd ( You're My Thrill) into my ipod from itunes.


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