Seven years of the Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival

By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun | Published August 9, 2023

 Internationally acclaimed Kimmie Horne’s jazz music stylings are known all around the world, but Detroit holds a special place in her heart.

Internationally acclaimed Kimmie Horne’s jazz music stylings are known all around the world, but Detroit holds a special place in her heart.

Photo provided by Kimmie Horne


SOUTHFIELD — This year, Southfield is proud to host the seventh annual Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival 6-10:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 11, and 3-10:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, on the front lawn of the Southfield Municipal Campus, 26000 Evergreen Road.

As a child of the ’60s, Horne grew up surrounded by a variety of music in her Detroit childhood home. She fondly reminisces how she and her seven siblings used to assist their father in their home studio.

Horne is the grandniece of the legendary performer and activist Lena Horne, and it’s evident that showbiz runs deep in the family.

Horne’s Uncle Cleveland was a member of the early Motown group the Fantastic Four, and her father worked as both a carpenter and a musician. An internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist and songwriter, Horne is no exception to this legacy. Her talents are adored across the globe, though the Motor City holds a special place in her heart.

“I found that every time I perform, it felt like coming home.”

Despite growing up in a home that always had a home studio filled with instruments and recording equipment, Horne didn’t find her voice as a singer until she was visiting back home from Ferris State University, where she was studying journalism.

“I came home one year to sing background with my oldest brother in the studio with Hank Cosby, who is one of Motown’s legendary studio producers. He wrote the song ‘My Cherie Amour’ with Stevie Wonder.” Horne stated. “And you know, because of being in the studio, and with him, it started to open my eyes a bit more to my talent, because he was sharing how, ‘Oh my God, you have an amazing voice. Let me try you on this lead song, Kimmie.’ And after, I really heard myself back in a real studio. I decided that this was what I wanted to do. I really want to sing and perform for the rest of my life.”

While performing in Japan, Horne would run into other musicians from Detroit and discuss the possibility of working together. However, it always seemed that personal work projects would get in the way of collaboration, so Horne decided to bring things back home. She figured that the best way to get together with her favorite local musicians would be to book them all for an event on the same day.

After speaking with the mayor and City Council members of Lathrup Village, Horne saw her vision born as the Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival in 2016, with free admission and a lineup of about seven performers. Horne remembers a storm the morning of the first festival, but she recalls it “clearing up just in time” for the nearly 2,500 attendees. One of Horne’s favorite features of the concert is the “Sisters in Song” segment, where she and another female singer perform together to showcase female empowerment and sisterhood.

The Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and part of the proceeds go to a cause each year to give back to the community. In the past, the festival has raised funds for Al McKenzie’s Jazz Youth Music Camp, Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Thanks to the Kimmie Horne Jazz Festival, over $20,000 was raised for the Ronald McDonald House to have a music room for the children to enjoy during their recovery.

The boutique concert has continued to grow and evolve in the past seven years, with one of the biggest changes being the location. After two years, the festival moved to Southfield to accommodate the large crowds flooding in each year.

Mayor Kenson Siver stated that last year’s festival drew about 6,000 people from Southfield and neighboring cities.

“Kimmie puts on one heck of a performance, and she also brings in people with exceptional talent. My former colleague, Daryl Beebe, who I worked with in Southfield schools, is an incredible musician,” Siver said. “The vibe is very pleasant. We do many concerts over the course of summer, but this is really our signature event.”

Admission is free, and parking costs $10, cash only. Evergreen Road will be closed from the south roundabout to the north roundabout. Friday’s lineup includes performances by the Fantastic Four at 6 p.m., Deon Yates at 7:30 p.m. and Freda Payne at 9 p.m. Saturday’s lineup includes Olivia Van Goor at 3 p.m., Luther Keith at 4:30 p.m., the Smoke Jones Band at 6 p.m., Daryl Beebe at 7:30 p.m. and Horne at 9 p.m.

In addition, to live music, the festival also features a bike cruise, the Fitness Hoopers, food trucks and vendors. Attendees are advised to bring either a lawn chair or a blanket for seating.

Horne said that when she was about to launch the festival, a friend advised her that she shouldn’t be seen on the property too much before her performance.

“That wasn’t my vision. My vision is that this is a musical family reunion. It’s like this is my house, and I’m here to greet people, talk with people, and it’s an opportunity to let them know that we’re all here to have a good time, including me, the artist.”

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