One of my favorites! Lena made her mark with me when I saw her in The Wiz. After learning more about her and hearing her sing her signature Stormy Weather, I was hooked. I had the opportunity to imitate her for a musical review when I resided in California. I will never forget that yellow, form fitting, sequin dress and doing my best to strike that pose! To me she was a woman who stood her ground, fought for what she believed and could put on a show stopper at a whim. My favorite song from the Wiz is Believe, I memorized that quickly just like She exuded grace, style, class in my book. She had a smile that embodied her personality and gave her fortitude. You knew when she walked in a room. Here is just a little history on the incomparable Lena Horne.
Actress and singer Lena Horne was born June 30, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York. She left school at age 16 to help support her mother and became a dancer at the Cotton Club in Harlem. She later sang at Carnegie Hall and appeared in such films as Stormy Weather and The Wiz. She was also known for her work with civil rights groups, and refused to play roles that stereotyped African-American women. A long run at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel nightclub in 1943 gave Horne’s career a boost. She was featured in Life magazine and became the highest-paid black entertainer at the time. After signing a seven-year contract with MGM Studios, she moved to Hollywood, where she filmed movies like Stormy Weather and Cabin in the Sky.
By the end of the 1940s, Horne had sued a variety of restaurants and theaters for discrimination and become an outspoken member of the leftist group Progressive Citizens of America. McCarthyism was sweeping through Hollywood, and Horne soon found herself blacklisted. Since she was unable to work in film, television, theater or recording, she performed primarily in posh nightclubs around the country. The ban eased in the mid-1950s, and Horne returned to the screen in the 1956 comedy Meet Me in Las Vegas.
Though she passed in 2010, she left a mark on Hollywood and the singing world that will never be forgotten.
You can read more of her biography here: http://www.biography.com/people/lena-horne-9344086#early-life