One of Detroit’s precious jewels: Kimmie Horn


When Detroit’s own Kim­mie Horne was contacted about doing this story, she was in the midst of an extensive tour in Japan, one of the many places where she is an ongoing popular attraction.

Horne who, by the way, is related to the legendary, iconic Lena Horne (on her father’s side of the family), had essentially been an R&B singer although she was versatile and often there were strong jazz elements.

But not long ago she suddenly transformed into a jazz chanteuse.

The album was titled “Loving This Jazz,” and here was Kimmie Horne effectively delivering jazz and pop gems such as “It’s All Right With Me,” “A Foggy Day in London Town,” “Lullaby of Birdland” and “Let’s Fall in Love.”

“I ABSOLUTELY love singing jazz,” Horne said. “When I was younger, I wanted to work with some of Detroit’s hottest musicians and performers, like Earl Klugh, Norma Jean Bell, David Myles, Ralphe Armstrong and Gene Dunlap who were playing many different styles of jazz.

“Consequently, I worked closely with each one and it helped me to develop musically and hone my stage presence that started to feel very natural to me.”

She continued, “My passion to sing and understanding more in-depth jazz led me to two ‘musical doctors’ of the Detroit jazz scene, Dr. Teddy Harris and Dr. Beans Bowles, whom I studied under.”

The fans have ben impressed and have embraced Horne’s jazz transition. However, there is nothing one-dimensional about “The Kimmie Horne Show.” That is not her way.

HOW EXTENSIVE has her travel been?

Consider this: In addition to performing all over the United States (including Las Vegas), she has entertained audiences in, among other places, Mexico, Jamaica, Toronto, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Montreal and, of course, Japan.

“Betty Carter (another famous jazz singer from Detroit) was my inspiration to get into jazz,” said Horne. “She encouraged me to know what the song’s story is and approach it as if it were mine. She came to several of my shows.

“She was a great teacher who was extremely honest and spoke highly of horn players that I should listen to. The key is to make the songs your own.”

Horne also greatly admires Sarah Vaughan, Phyllis Hyman, Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald and Marian Anderson.

“These five ladies exude vocal richness, clarity in telling a story through warm, beautiful, heartfelt tones and impeccable phrasing that still leaves me breathless,” said Horne.

SINCE SHE is from Detroit, it is natural to wonder if Horne had ever envisioned herself as a Motown artist, carrying on the traditions of the great ladies of the iconic record company.

“Yes, I have imagined it,” she said. “I have even incorporated certain routines with matching attire and gloves with my three background singers to pay homage to the female groups of Motown.

“I’ve established really good relationships with Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Martha Reeves of the Vandellas, and I had the pleasure of performing with Stevie Wonder several times.

“The Motown era has had a huge impact in my life. From the smooth choreographed moves, stylish costumes and ladylike personas, influenced by Maxine Powell (who was in charge of Motown’s finishing school, part of Motown’s grooming department) who I consider a good friend, the Motown artists set the standard on how to be a polished performer.”

SPEAKING OF performing, does Kimmie Horne ever get nervous before going on stage?

“I still get a little nervous at times,” she said. “However, I remind myself how blessed I am to still do what I love to do, and that I hope the audience enjoys themselves as much as I am going to enjoy performing for them…It’s show time!”

So when and how did it all begin?

“I started singing professionally at the age of 19,” Horne said. “My brother asked me to record some background vocals with him in the studio. After we completed the session, Motown producer and songwriter Henry (“Hank”) Cosby asked me to sing lead on one of his original songs.

“I remember having a joyous musical awakening when we all listened back to the final vocals. My first studio recording experience lit up my heart with a new yet familiar passion. It was all the validation I needed.”

BEFORE TOO long she found herself on a plane to the Orient.

“I went to Japan as lead vocalist with Quazar for three months, and the rest is history. I was determined to create a national and international profile, so I performed everywhere,” she said.

Kimmie Horne, who graduated from Redford High School and majored in journalism at Ferris State University, is currently gearing up for a series of performances in metro Detroit, including the Detroit Jazz Festival, Chene Park and the Southfield Jazz Festival.

Then in the fall it’s off to Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain.

We had one more question for the busy songstress: What are your goals at this point?

She responded, “To win a Grammy with my original music. To continue to sing and tell my story, through my performances, to millions of people around the world.”

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