Brooklyn, New York.
Claim to Fame
Cabin In The Sky (movie) Jazz singer, Stormy Weather
Show Tunes, Jazz, Swing, Stage & Screen, Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz
Sophisticated, Confident, Theatrical, Poignant, Passionate, Dramatic, Brassy, Elegant, Literate, Stylish, Sentimental, Sensual, Refined/Mannered, Romantic
Place of Death
Manhattan, New York City, New York.
Has Detailed Data (New)
Full Name at Birth
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne
Has Detailed Data (Music)
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist.
Has Detailed Data (105)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Edwin Fletcher "Teddy" Horne, Jr
Edna Louise Scottron (1895–1985)
Howard University In Washington, DC
Singer, Actress, Dancer
Voice And Face
Cause of Death
Judy Garland, Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., Barbra Streisand, Teddy Wilson
Profile Bio Text
Lena Horne is known as one of the most popular African American entertainers of the twentieth century. A woman of great beauty and commanding stage presence, she performed in nightclubs, concert halls, movies, and on radio and television.
Lena's early years
Lena Horne was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 30, 1917. Her father, Edwin "Teddy" Horne, who worked in the gambling trade, left the family when Lena was three. Her mother, Edna, was an actress with an African American theater troupe and traveled extensively. Horne was mainly raised by her grandparents, Cora Calhoun and Edwin Horne. Yet, she still moved a great deal in her early years because her mother often took her with her on the road. They lived in various parts of the South before Horne was returned to her grandparents' home in 1931. After they died, Horne lived with a friend of her mother's, Laura Rollock. Shortly thereafter Edna remarried and Horne moved in with her mother and her mother's new husband. The constant moving resulted in Lena having an education that was often interrupted. She attended various small-town, segregated (separated by race) school's when in the South with her mother. In Brooklyn she attended the Ethical Cultural School, the Girls High School, and a secretarial school.
From an early age Horne had ambitions of becoming a performer—much against the wishes of her family, who felt she should have higher goals. The Hornes were an established middle class family, with several members holding college degrees and distinguished positions in organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Urban League (a group that worked to increase the economic and political power of minorities and to end discrimination based on race). Nonetheless, Horne pursued her own course and at age sixteen was hired to dance in the chorus at Harlem's famed Cotton Club. In
1934 Lena took voice lessons, and she also landed a small role in an all-black Broadway show Dance with Your Gods. In 1935 she became the featured singer with the Noble Sissle Society Orchestra, which performed at many first-rate hotel ballrooms and nightclubs. She left Sissle in 1936 to perform as a "single" in a variety of New York City clubs.
In 1937 Horne married minor politician Louis Jones, by whom she had a daughter, Gail, and a son, Edwin (they separated in 1940 and divorced in 1944). She gained some early stage experience in Lew Leslie's revues, Blackbirds of 1939 and Blackbirds of 1940, and in 1940 she joined one of the great white swing bands, the Charlie Barnet Orchestra. But as the group's only black member she suffered many humiliations of racial prejudice, especially from hotels and restaurants that catered exclusively to whites.
Horne left Barnet in 1941. Her career received an immediate boost from entertainment manager John Hammond, who got her a long engagement at the famous Cafe Society Downtown, a club in New York City. It was at the Cafe Society that Horne learned about African American history, politics, and culture and developed a new appreciation of her heritage. She rekindled her acquaintance with Paul Robeson (1898–1976), whom she had known as a child. Horne's conversations with Robeson made her realize that the African American people were going to unify and make their situations in life better. She felt she needed to be a part of that movement. From that point onward, Horne became a significant voice in the struggle for equality and justice for African Americans in the United States.
Film career begins
In 1943 a long booking at the SavoyPlaza Hotel, which brought Horne national coverage and a number of movie appearances, established her as the highest-paid African American entertainer in the United States. She was signed to a seven-year contract with the movie studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM)—the first African American woman since 1915 to sign a term contract with a film studio. She was not dark enough in color to star with many of the African American actors of the day and her roles in white films were limited, since Hollywood was not ready to portray interracial relationships on screen.
Given these harsh limitations imposed on African Americans in 1930s and 1940s Hollywood movies, Horne's film career is impressive. After singing roles in Panama Hattie (1942), Harlem on Parade (1942), I Dood It (1943), Swing Fever (1943), and As Thousands Cheer (1943), she was given a starring role in an allblack story, Cabin in the Sky (1943), which also starred her idol, Ethel Waters (1900–1977). Another major role followed in Stormy Weather (1943) and then some nonspeaking roles in Broadway Rhythm (1944), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944), and a musical biography of Rodgers and Hart, Words and Music (1948). She refused to take on any roles that were disrespectful to her as a woman of color.
Works for civil rights
Music Genre (Text)
Broadway, Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz
Mgm, RCA Victor, United Artists, Blue Note, Qwest/Warner Bros. Records
Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbra Streisand, Teddy Wilson
Music Genre (Text)
Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz
Cab Calloway, Noble Sissle, Ralph Cooper, Sammy Davis Jr.
Wiki Bio Text
==Lena Mary Calhoun Horne== (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist.
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