VisionThought's Blog
Perspective for A New Vision

Lena Horne


Lena Horne

(June  30, 1917 – May 9, 2010)

Lena Horne is a legend! Her career spanned over 70 years in film, music  and theatre.  Her passing on May 9, 2010 was not the only major event in her life to take place in May.  From just a cursory glance at her life we find May to be a very important month in the career  and life of the great Lena Horne. 

At age sixty-three, she mounted a one-woman show that she brought to Broadway. ‘Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music’ opened at the Nederlander Theatre on May 12, 1981, and was an instant hit. Within a month, she was given a special Tony Award marking its success, and the show played 333 performances, the longest run for a one-person production in Broadway history.

The film company which produced Stormy Weather,  20th Century Fox,  was founded on May 31, 1935.

Leslie Uggams who played Lena Horne in a stage production of the musical Stormy Weather at the Pasadena Playhouse in Californina in 2009,  was born on May 25, 1943.

The month of May was also the date of transition for music icons James Resese Europe, Duke Ellington and her good friend, Billy Strayhorn as well as other singers she collaborated with on various projects.

James Resese Europe (February 22 1881 -May 9,1919) worked with Noble Sissle, noted  jazz composer and bandleader with whom Lena Horne  toured with early in her career . 

Noble Sissle , sang vocals on the last album by James Resese Europe.  This is noteworthy due to Europe’s pioneering role in music. Europe played what many deemed as “proto-jazz”. Europe’s stature at the time of his death was so great, he was the first African-American  granted the first ever public funeral for an African American in the city of New York.

Sissle also accompanied Europe while on tour in May 1919 and was “given charge of the band” to continue on to the next stop on the band’s tour after Europe’s untimely death on May 9, 1919. The same day as Lena Horne’s passing 91 years later!

Billy Strayhorn  lived from November 29, 1915  to May 31, 1967.  According to Wikipedia Strayhorn had a major influence on the career of Lena Horne, who wanted to marry Strayhorn and considered him to have been the love of her life.  They never married or had a relationship that went beyond friendship. Strayhorn used his classical background in guiding Horne’s singing technique toward improvement. Strayhorn is best known for his work with Duke Ellington with his composition “A-Train” among others.

Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974)  music career was a tour de force for five decades evidenced by his winning 13 Grammys, with 9 garnered while he was alive. Horne would later go on to record an album mainly of compositions by Ellington and Strayhorn.

Horne in 1998 completed a studio  album titled “Men in My Life”, consisting of duets with Joe Williams and Sammy Davis, Jr.  Sammy Davis , Jr. made his transition on May 16, 1990

Frank Sinatra with whom Horne “lent her vocals to a recording of  Embarceable You” on Sinatra’s Duets II album,  died on May 13, 1998. 

April was also  an important month for Lena Horne one mixed with career milestones and personal tragedy.

Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) which signed Lena Horne making her the first African-American performer to have a long-term contract with a major studio, was founded on April 16, 1924. 

Cabin In the Sky Film, where Horne was casted as “the temptress Georgia Brown” was released  April 9, 1943. 

The Broadway play Jamaica in which Lena starred in playing the character Savannah opened on October 31, 1957 and closed on April 11, 1959.

Horne’s  father, Edwin “Teddy” Horne passed away on April 18, 1970 at the age of 78. Her second husband Lennie Hayton, died of a heart attack on April 24, 1971 at the age of  63.

Throughout the ups and downs of life and her career Lena Horne maintained grace and dignity.

Thank you Lena!

Job Well Done!

©VisionThought 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

No Responses to “Lena Horne”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: