I figure since there is such a plethora of Lena Horne posts, that I will chime-in to drop science on how I came to know Lena after my Dad won her albums as part of an RCA Records collection and “brand new RCA COLOR TV” ( back when they had vacuum tubes inside) on “The Price Is Right” back in 1962. Therefore, I offer you some friendly cheerfulness via my vinyl Lena Horne tribute. Here is an album cover that is amongst the ones he won.
My Aunts and Uncles’ conversations at family gatherings, always mentioned that Lena was “passing” [for a white woman] sometimes [ light-skinned blacks did that back then to gain acceptance in the general market ] and yet, there was a grudging respect and envy of her by my Aunts, especially. According to Lena’s daughter, Gail Lumet Buckley, her mother never tried to do that, but was often a frustrated forerunner of the movement to equality as she tried to navigate her career while staying true to herself and the mentoring of Paul Robeson. My most recent memory is when she shook my hand and autographed my program for the 1994 Impact Radio Music Convention in Atlantic City shortly after she was on the dais introducing radio icon Hal Jackson at the radio Legends Dinner – in fact I have her lovely voice on one of my “on-location diary” tapes from that evening. I promptly gave that autographed piece to my Mum – who doesn’t really know where it is now – and which most likely was destroyed in a house fire back there where I grew up, in 2000. Here is another my Dad won in the collection:
Nevertheless, I was Sooo surprised and thrilled to meet and talk to her garcious presence one-on-one as if she was a member of the family, on my older family’s behalf that evening at the convention!
Annd here’s another cover of a great Lena album my family has:
Ms. Horne was always a beautiful and classy lady and performer/advocate for civil rights and equality for Black Americans when there was none and even she was ushered through the back door to perform in front of predominately Caucasian audiences. I am glad it outraged her, inspiring her to achieve change, and current “stars” like Whitney Houston (who I used to admire with a crush) would serve themselves well to mold their images in Lena’s likeness. Here is her house which still stands near my parents’ house in St. Albans, Queens :
And so NOW…again, “for something completely different” and upon whose beautiful and progressive shoulders many performers who are “darker than blue” stand …I reviewed Heather Johnson‘s CD for the dance music web column several weeks back, and it is my Mid-May 2010 gift to you, on behalf of Ms. Horne.
I always know a smash when after reviewing it, I keep playing it weeks and months later while outside on my front porch in “chill/research/study mode”.
You’ll probably come back to this track a few times until you are hooked – it’s alright; it is infectious! “May I have this dance?”