Artists mourn NC composer, jazz musician and NCCU professor


Brian Horton, director of the jazz program at North Carolina Central University, died this week, the university announced.


The director of NC Central University’s Jazz Studies program and his famous jazz ensemble have died, the university announced Friday.

Brian Horton was 46 and died of natural causes, The News & Observer media partner ABC11 reported.

Horton, a Kinston native, had recently led the entire NCCU to a top-three finish in a competition for the nation’s top college jazz programs at Lincoln Center in New York.

In addition to his role as an assistant professor in the university’s music department, Horton was a composer and saxophonist.

He’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in jazz, including Clark Terry, and stars in other fields, like rapper Snoop Dogg, according to his professional biography.

Artists of all kinds mourned Horton’s death on social media.

Writer Isaac Hughes Green said on Twitter that Horton was “an extremely talented musician – someone I enjoyed having quick conversations with between sets at local jazz clubs. I was inspired a lot by him as an artist teacher.

Designer Rachel Stewart wrote that she “had the honor and pleasure of working with him on his album cover years ago, may he rest in peace, he was a dedicated and brilliant musician.”

“His loss is immeasurable,” Isrea Butler, the former chair of NCCU’s music department, wrote on Facebook.

The university has not shared information about the cause of death, and information about a memorial service has yet to be announced.

Students can call the NCCU Counseling Center 24-hour line at 919-530-7646. The university has additional resources for faculty and staff.

This story was originally published September 17, 2022 1:03 p.m.

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Carli Brosseau is a journalist at The News & Observer and often analyzes databases as part of her job. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.