Long Live Lena.

Lena the Legend

My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black woman. ~ Lena Horne

On a recent 60 Minutes commentary Andy Rooney lamented how he looked at the top artists on Billboard and realized he didn’t know any of them. He mused maybe that made him no longer an average American because he didn’t know who Justin Bieber, Usher or Lady Gaga were.

But Rooney said it also meant kids who like Justin Bieber, Usher and Lady Gaga were missing out because they didn’t know who Ella Fitzgerald was either.

I guess there’s no reason in our dumbed-down, pseudo-celebrity society where people who haven’t really done anything except be famous for being famous (I’m looking at you, Kim Kardashian, Heidi Montag and the Jersey Shore crew) shouldn’t be more popular than a 92-year-old Black singer and actress who broke the color line and was an iconic beauty.

Lena Horne didn’t do reality TV (an oxymoron if ever there was) and she didn’t play mammies and maids at a time when that was all Hollywood wanted to see Black women as. “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,” she said. All too true.

She had too much dignity and far too much class to shuffle or roll her eyes for anyone.   You can’t fake style.  Lena towers over the artificial “beauty” of today because her’s was so natural, so effortless.  She was sexy without being crude.  Chic without being forced.    Though she made it look easy that hardly means she didn’t work, and hard, for everything she got.    Racism may have slowed Lena down, but she never allowed it to beat her down.

Long live Lena Horne.

27 thoughts on “Long Live Lena.

  1. She is such a beautiful woman and she can really sign. I remember my mother always praising her and telling me how great she was. It seems like back then music was so great then. I sure would have liked to meet her.


  2. Nice post. I saw her in concert at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, 20-some years ago and she was amazing! I’ve never forgotten that night. Wonder if Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber will be remembered decades from now.


  3. Pingback: Who’s Cooler – Lena Horne Or Justin Bieber? « 55-Plus Palm Springs

  4. I love Lena! I may only be 45 but let me tell you, I have seen her sing on television. Black and white or in color – Lena has that sexy voice. Man is she beautiful.


  5. The first time I saw Lena Horne perform was on Sesame Street. She was singing to Grover; my Dad was walking from one room to another and stopped to listen to her sing to a blue Muppet.
    She was a trooper, a trailblazer, a lady and a true talent.
    Lena, here’s to you.


  6. My two favourite memories of Lena … seeing her sing Stormy Weather on a 1940s Hollywood movie that featured all African American actors … not sure of the title of the movie … I saw it on TV as a teen in the 1970s.

    Also around the same time hearing her voice belt out the great racial emancipation anthem, Now is the Moment … on the radio …

    And to think her career lasted so long … I guess when you look at that You Tube and hear and see the flawless vocal technique, you can see why her career spanned over 60 years.

    I was very sad to hear of her passing …


    • Dorothy Dandridge died far too early at 42, so it’s difficult to equate her with Lena Horne who lived 50 years longer. Dandridge was equally as beautiful and possibly a better actress than Lena, but it’s all subjective. You can’t take anything away from either of these two enormously talented trailblazers. They both left a legacy that sadly not enough young people know or appreciate. Perhaps if they check out Halle Berry’s Emmy-award winning performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge they will understand her importance.

      Thanks for reading.


  7. Hear, hear! Great post! I totally agree- there is so much fabulous music out there!! And so many different types of artists creating that music, and whilst there is nothing wrong with enjoying your biebers and rhiannas etc. I with the “mainstream” radio etc would broaden their playlists. Kids should know who Lena Horne was. A beautiful, talented woman and an inspiration to many!


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