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With 'Dear Love' and a new label, Jazzmeia Horn is forging her own path

Drew Bordeaux

Jazzmeia Horn has always maintained creative control of her sound and image. From being on major labels to running her very own, she has always stayed true to who she is at her core in every way.

The name of Horn’s label, Empress Legacy Records, was inspired by the spirit of women like Sojourner Truth, Angela Davis, Nina Simone, Empress Menen, and her own daughters. And she’s already making history with it, having garnered a third Grammy nod with her latest album, Dear Love, which is up for Best Large Jazz Ensemble. Horn is the first African-American woman vocalist to be nominated in the category.

The road to this juncture hasn’t been a smooth one. Even after her first two albums on major labels received global critical acclaim, Horn had a tough time trying to convince labels to support her dreams of fronting a big band. She pitched her idea to some 30 different record labels, to no avail. It was that rejection that fueled her to write a book, Strive From Within: The Jazzmeia Horn Approach.

As a result, people from all over the globe contacted her, requesting virtual voice lessons. All of this funded the production of her latest record, without the backing of a major label. Proof that if you aren’t invited to dine at the table, you just have to build your own. It simply took her inner “noble force” to manifest it.

Jazzmeia Horn performs at the Hudson Jazz Festival on Feb. 19, and at William Paterson University's Shea Center for the Performing Artson Feb. 20.

Keanna Faircloth is a Washington, DC native and comes to WBGO getting her start on-air at WPFW 89.3 FM in 2003, most recently as the host of Late Night Jazz: The Continuum Experience. She is a graduate of Howard University having majored in Music History with a minor in Classical Piano. Keanna has written for NPR Music, and worked for Radio One as an on-air personality, producer and voice-over talent. She is also the creator and host of Artimacy Podcast, where she has interviewed artists like Wynton Marsalis, Matthew Whitaker, Jonathan Butler, and Dionne Warwick. As a result, she was recognized by Radio Ink Magazine as a 2019 African American leader in radio.