Friday, June 25, 2010

Style Flashback: Lena Horne

What is there left to say about Lena Horne that hasn't already been said. Singer. Actress. Activist. Dancer. She's done it all. On May 9th, 2010 the world was saddened by the news that a legend had fallen. We can take comfort in the fact that she lead a full life, dying at the age of 92. I'll try here to summarize all her achievements in less than 500 words. In the Fall of 1933, Horne joined the mike chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a nightclub performer. This was her introduction to the world of entertainment. Soon after, Hollywood called. Horne had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. However, due to her left-leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen." Returning to her roots as a nightclub performer, Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963, and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs and on television, while releasing well-received record albums. She announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway and earned her numerous awards and accolades. She continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, disappearing from the public eye in 2000. I'll miss Lena Horne for her integrity - something many artists today lack. Fame and fortune shouldn't be the end goal for modern entertainers. Courage and faith hold equal merit, and as Horne has demonstrated, it's what real legends are made of.

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