Jazzmeia Horn Announces Her Ambition

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Jazzmeia Horn is among the 25 artists DownBeat thinks will help shape jazz in the decades to come.

(Photo: Emmanuel Afolabi)

​In pre-COVID times, Jazzmeia Horn recalled that her packed touring schedule meant “singing into my recorder while on the train, or on the airplane, or in the line to board the plane ... or in bathroom stalls.”

Since the pandemic began, the ambitious 29-year-old Dallas native with the stunning vocal technique has stayed busy. She used her forced hiatus at home in New York to spend more time with her two toddlers, work on a forthcoming big-band album with strings, finish a book she’d been writing for the past seven years and focus more on composing.

Horn’s original songs were what set her 2019 album, Love And Liberation, apart from her debut, A Social Call, released two years earlier. Both Concord discs were critically acclaimed and nominated for Grammys. The first album, with its mix of sass, politics and straightahead scatting, announced her as an artist with a distinct vision. The second album deepened that vision by adding eight original songs that displayed a mature talent as a composer.

She writes about her artistry in her self-published book, Strive from Within: The Jazzmeia Horn Approach. “What separates me from other artists my age is my brand,” she told DownBeat. “I think of myself as a business. I make my own clothes. I don’t have a manager. I don’t like to have people make decisions for me.”

Horn is far from being a typical millennial. “I don’t have a TV,” she said. “If I’m in a bar, it’s because I’m going to hear someone sing or play, or I’m going to play myself.” Musically, she said she carries “a reverence for the tradition and for the elders who have walked this path before me—the shoulders I stand on ... . My music will evolve, but I’ll stick to the tradition of straightahead, classic jazz. There’s nothing like it. And it makes me feel really good.” DB

This story originally was published in the November 2020 issue of DownBeat. Subscribe here.



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June 2021
Vijay Iyer
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