Lena Horne, 1917-2010

10 05 2010

A grande dame has died.

This, of course, is the song for which she was most famous, but I fell for Lena Horne when she was on Broadway with her show ‘The Lady and Her Music”:

I was in high school at the time and don’t recall at all how I zoomed in on this show—perhaps it was because I was theatre-mad—but I damned sure couldn’t understand all that went into that performance. The earlier version is sweet, wistful, but the later one? That required some living.

No way did a small-town teenager understand. But as much as it scared me, I wanted to.

Of course, there’s also the Ed Bradley interview—the one he said that when he gets to the gates of heaven and asked what he’d done to deserve heaven, he’d say, Check out my interview with Lena Horne.

He ain’t kidding; I can’t find the whole interview, but here’s a smidgen.

(This isn’t working as an embedded vid, but the link should work—and you should definitely click on it, because it’s the best of the three links.)

I give the last word to the woman herself, from an interview twelve years ago:

“My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

(Credits: 20th Century Fox; Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; CBS; New York Times)