One of my father’s favorite singers, Lena Horne, passed away yesterday at age 92. My father can’t carry a tune in a bucket and he can play only two songs on the piano – St. Louis Blues and Teddy Wilson’s Body and Soul – but my father had a great collection of 78s from the pre-war era and he knows his jazz singers. TB was so right about Lena Horne.
As the web site The Music’s Over but the Songs Live On noted,
Lena Horne was a popular and influential jazz vocalist and actress who broke many color barriers over a career that spanned nearly seven decades, and her 1943 recording of “Stormy Weather” is arguably the most recognized song of its era. Horne was not only a multi-Grammy award-winning singer, she was also an award-winning star of stage, screen and television.
She was also an activist during the Civil Rights era, which is where I encountered her after the introduction by my father. The New York Times obituary recalled the difficulties she faced as a black actress during the era of segregation, often performing only musical pieces that could be cut from films for viewing in Southern theatres.
Stormy Weather is a great song, and Lena Horne made it her own. Here’s the full version from the 1943 film, remastered in 2002.
She will be missed.
More to come…
I heard about Lena on NPR this morning. Helen and I got to hear her in Nashville at TPAC in the 80’s when she made a comeback after being out of the spotlight for a few years. She gave a great performance and put all of herself in it. I remember she worked so hard she was perspiring. She stopped to wipe her brow and said, “I don’t perspire, I sweats” Great voice and great and beautiful lady.
Thanks for the note, Daddy. I’m glad you didn’t take offense at my characterization of your musical skills, but you did give all of us a love of some wonderful musicians.