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Lifting other voice to sing

Last February, Christine Horn found herself frustrated with her career as a performer. A longtime local actress who has appeared in Alliance Theatre and Jomandi productions, Horn was tired of waiting for her agent to call. So she decided to pursue another direction by singing her own theatrical "R&B alternative" songs, accepting an invitation from Mumbo Jumbo to organize the monthly multi-act performance showcase, Sunday Stories.

Unlike with acting, Horn says, "I feel like I have some control over my music. I can record an album if I want to. I can throw a show and invite people on my own."

Fast forward to this February — Mumbo Jumbo is closing down and Sunday Stories is gone. But Horn's interest in bringing musicians together remains. So, with February being Black History Month, she concocted an even more ambitious event: Lift Every Voice and Sing.

Named for the hymn that has been called the "Negro national anthem," the showcase features 11 local African-American acts in one night. The key, Horn says, is stylistic diversity. "A lot of times in our community we get used to just neo-soul or R&B, but there are other types. I just want to let people see us in a different light — that we're able to do so many types of music."

To that end, performers include bluesy acoustic singer Jahi Kearse, jazz violinist LaTonya Peoples, "ghetto metal" rockers E.X. Vortex, experimental soul/poetry ensemble Jjason Blackwell and hip-hoppers Hyrisk & Mavinus, as well as Horn herself and other acts.

"It's just bringing everyone together to network," Horn says. "That's half the following in this city — other musicians getting to know each other and helping each other out."

Lift Every Voice and Sing is held Fri., Feb. 21, at Apache Cafe.