Shirley Horn began her career as a pianist in a Washington, D.C. night club, and only later did she ease into her now-familiar role as a jazz vocalist. "It was no big thing," said Horn, "but then I started to realize how much I loved to sing." Initially content to remian at a local artist, she played Washington DC's the One Step Down for more than twenty years, Horn was coaxed away to New York City by Miles Davis, the legendary jazz trumpeter. Seduced by Horn's debut recording, he invited Horn to open for him at New York's Village Vanguard, a series of engagements that catapulted her into the national limelight. In 1998, Horn paid tribute to her mentor with the brilliant I Remember Miles, for which she won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. Over the course of her luminous career, Shirely Horn has garnered seven consecutive GRAMMY® nominations, and her albums, Here's to Life, Light Our of Darkness, and I Love You, Paris, have all soared to number one on the Billboard jazz charts.
In addition to her GRAMMY® Award and nominations, Shirely Horn has won five WAMMIEs®, the Washington area's music industry award. In 1987, she was presented the Mayor's Arts Award for "Excellence in an Artistic Discipline" in Washington, D.C. In 1990 Horn's Close Enough for Love album won one of France's premiere music awards, the Academie De Jazz's Prix Billie Holliday. Other awards include the Edison Populair HR57 Award®, the Phineas Newborn, Jr. Award®, and she was voted #1 female vocalist in the New York Jazz Critics Awards® and #1 jazz vocalist in DownBeat 's Critics' Poll.
Ms. Horn was elected to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Hall of Fame in 1996, she died 22 October 2005 in her home outside of Washington DC, aged 71.