When Elon Hornsby hits the stage at the House of Blues in New Orleans on Friday, Dec. 28, no one would guess the sassy singer—who some compare to Macy Gray and Missy Elliot—still thinks of herself as a high school band geek.
“I was a brass player. I played trumpet, French horn, anything that’s brass I tried to pick it up. I even tried the trombone once, but that didn’t work out too well because of the slide,” Hornsby said with a laugh. “But I’m a band nerd at heart, and I always will be.”
But nerd is not the word you think of as you listen to Hornsby’s “Only Elon” EP (online at https://soundcloud.com/elonhornsby), because she’s clearly got the confidence of a polished vocalist.
Hornsby graduated from Terrebonne High in Houma, but her love of music began when she was much younger and singing in her family’s church choir.
“Singing in the choir with my aunt really gave me that first opportunity to sing,” she said. “That was my favorite part of church – singing in the choir. Growing up, I would visit family members in New Orleans, so I got a taste of the Crescent City, as well.”
Even though Big Easy shows and choir harmonies shaped Hornsby’s development, she credits her high school band director with inspiring her to get a master’s degree in music at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. However, the music she studied there was not the melodic hip-hop with rock elements that she currently performs.
“I was classically trained in college,” Hornsby said. My major was performance and my area was classical. I learned a lot about that, and the theory was really important, because it helped me understand how I can reshape my music.”
When she wasn’t learning music theory in college classes, Hornsby got involved in the Atlanta music scene as a fledgling producer. This led to working with rap artist Xxxclusive, who offered Hornsby an opportunity to sing in the studio and perform with her.
“She needed a hook one day,” Hornsby said. “So I thought about a hook and sang it for her, and she said, ‘Why don’t you just sing the hooks? Can you just record your voice in the hooks?’”
Later, Xxxclusive invited Hornsby to sing live in concert, and the crowd seemed to love it.
Encouraged by the audience, Hornsby decided to launch a solo career and moved to New Orleans. She kept writing songs and got a manager to help her reach for the next level.
One of the connections her manager found for Hornsby was Tom Drummond of the band Better Than Ezra, who owns a New Orleans recording studio and produces artists, too.
He recognized Hornsby’s talents right away.
“I heard her voice and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool! She can really sing,’” Drummond said, “She just needed a little help, but her melodies are outstanding.”
While Hornsby loves how the “Only Elon” EP came together, she feels fortunate to have the personal and professional support around her that should make her House of Blues debut an amazing night.
“I was lucky enough to meet the right people, and they had the same vision that I had, so we just kept moving,” Hornsby said. “To be at the House of Blues is a dream come true – that’s an accomplishment, and I feel blessed.”