Jazzmeia Horn’s New Album Displays Rising Star and Black Womanist Resistance
By Kevin C. Peterson
Jazzmeia Horn sings exquisitely with a kind of effortless effervescence that features gospel roots and carefully curated meanings of black female agency.
Four short years ago Horn, at 24, won the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition. Two years later her first album, “Social Call” registered number 1 on the highly regarded JazzWeek website.
Horn, who is tall, physically slight and crafting an Afro-centric demeanor — in terms of dress — carries with her a well-honed musical purposefulness that can deftly scale registers of vocalization with remarkably pitched tonality.
Her most recent album, called “Love and Liberation,” was released this August by Concord Records to the glee of fans and satisfaction of critics who are convinced of her emergence as a significant voice in jazz. This second album is flushed with performances that infuses Horn’s high octane enthusiasm and understanding of the African-American classical music form into well-known jazz standards: Horn vamps through blues, jazz, broadway-influenced show tunes and gospel platforms with practiced skillfulness that give fresh perspective and deep appreciation.
“Still Tryin” is a song from the new album that unvails the enormity of Horn’s talent for most to witness. A blues-based narrative concerning bar room venereal pursuits, Horn sings with superior story-telling alacrity that lifts what would be a pedestrian tale of sexual predation into categories of black female agency and existential surety.
Horn knows that the blues are not always how they sound. Rather, the blues seek to move the listener beyond the patina of melancholy to places of discovery — from being harried to hope. So, in “Still Tryin” the audience is transported from the pedestrian recounting of a forced trysts to a realm where female autonomy gleams.