Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne 1917-2010

Award-winning vocalist, actress, and performer of the stage and screen, both small and large, Lena Horne passed away yesterday just short of her 93rd birthday.

I first became aware of Miss Horne in the oddest of places - from the old "Sanford and Son" show as she was a celebrity whom the lead character played by Redd Foxx had the hots for. As Lena was a mainstay of the variety programs of the day I soon learned who she really was. While I knew her from variety television and even "Sesame Street," her career began decades earlier at the Cotton Club in the 1930s, where she was, and remained throughout her life, one of jazz's premiere vocalists, her signature song being "Stormy Weather."

From there she went on to Hollywood appearing in many films, most notably Cabin in the Sky, Panama Hattie and Stormy Weather. Unfortunately her life was made difficult in a less tolerant age because of her interracial marriage and her strong civil rights activism, so she turned to playing in Vegas for some time.

Miss Horne continued to record music throughout her career, moreso in the 1980s and 90s after her successful one-woman Broadway show "Lena Horne: The Lady and her Music." We have truly lost a legend, she will be missed.

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