Remembering Lena Horne

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By Stephanie Holland / Editor in Chief

Show usiness legend (Wikimedia Commons)

By Stephanie Holland / Editor in Chief

Before there was Beyonce, Halle Berry or Alicia Keys, there was Lena Horne. This show business ground breaker made it possible for so many of today’s most popular artists to thrive.

The 92 year old singer/actress died on May 7 at New York-Presbyterian hospital.

Horne got her start dancing and singing at the Cotton Club in Harlem at 16. When a scout saw her perform she got a screen test with MGM.

Horne was the first African-American to receive a Hollywood studio deal in 1942. MGM signed her to a seven year deal, but wasted her talent, using her peripherally in musicals.

She usually only appeared in a few scenes so they could be removed when the movies played in the south.

She did gain acclaim for the films “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather.” Horne used her recognition to return to live performing, with “Stormy Weather” becoming her signature song.

Following her initial stint in Hollywood she released several albums and won two Grammys. She also won a Tony award in 1981 for her show “Lena: The Lady and Her Music” and was honored by the Kennedy Center in 1984.

She also has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One for recording and one for movies.

Horne was also a leader in the civil rights movement, participating in the March on Washington with Martin Luther King and marching in Mississippi with Medger Evers.

While touring with the USO during WWII she was dropped for complaining about the treatment of black soldiers and often refused to perform in front of segregated crowds.

To younger audiences she is known for her performance of Glinda in “The Wiz” and her appearances on “The Cosby Show” and with The Muppets.

Her rendition of “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green” with Kermit the Frog is viewed as a powerful lesson in equality for children.

Performing well into her 80s, Horne was a class act, whose impact on the entertainment industry is still felt today.

A Class Act (Carl Van Vechten)

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