Tuesday, May 11, 2010

On the Passing of Lena Horne

I was just about to go to bed Sunday night/Monday morning when I saw the report that Lena Horne had passed away, and then my heart sunk. I fell in love with Lena Horne when I was a kid. She was the "Glinda the Good Witch" in "The Wiz," and she was a guest on "The Muppet Show." I remember watching the old black musicals, including "Stormy Weather" and "Cabin in the Sky," with my family. My late grandfather was a big fan, as were many of his college classmates and fellow soldiers, and for an obvious reason: Lena Horne was stunningly beautiful.

I think that it is wonderful that President and Mrs. Obama released a statement regarding Horne's passing (H/T to Rod 2.0). Indeed, she deserved that level of recognition. And, when I think of it, we've now lost two titans of the Jim Crow/Civil Rights era (Dr. Dorothy Height). I love that Horne was unapologetic in her Civil Rights efforts, she really was a "steel magnolia," and I am sure that it took a toll on her over time.

I really did come to enjoy some of her later recordings, especially "We'll Be Together Again" and "Being Myself." Horne's rendition of "Autumn in New York" can make you want to pack your bags today. And when I think of "We'll Be Together Again," I hope that Ms. Horne is kicking up with her beloved Billy Strayhorn, one of her closest friends, who also happened to be gay. I also loved to watch Horne perform. That flash of the eyes that she would give could just melt your heart, and bring you in even more.

I am not doing this as well as I would like, or as well as Horne deserves. I will just say that I was in near tears as the retrospectives played on Monday. I also have to say that Rachel Maddow has now moved into a special category in my mind and heart for the tribute that she gave to Lena Horne last night. It was an incredibly pleasant surprise, and a very moving tribute.

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Here are some video clips of the lovely, and incomparable Lena Horne. So many can stand to learn from the example she set.

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