Diva down! Diva down! I cannot believe we are seeing the anniversary of losing another Diva! Legendary actress and singer Lena Horne known for her timeless ballad "Stormy Weather" died at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin.
Ms. Horne was legendary for her beauty and respected for the racial barriers she had to negotiate in an industry that was not always welcoming of folks from marginalized groups. She had to even wear dark make-up so that people would not think a "white woman" was appearing on stage with black musicians.
As blessed as she was aestetically Ms. Horne seemed to understand how her looks made her more palatble to a mainstream audience. She shared, "I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept," she once said. "I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked."
I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn't work for places that kept us out. ... It was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world," she said in Brian Lanker's book "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America."
The famous and elite have all come out to pay tribute to this Diva.
"It's just a great loss," said Janet Jackson in an interview on Monday. "She brought much joy into everyone's lives – even the younger generations, younger than myself. She was such a great talent. She opened up such doors for artists like myself."
Quincy Jones, a longtime friend and collaborator, shared that Horne was a "pioneering groundbreaker." "Our friendship dated back more than 50 years and continued up until the last moment, her inner and outer beauty immediately bonding us forever," shared Jones, who noted that they worked together on the film "The Wiz" and a Grammy-winning live album.
I remember seeing Lena Horne in "The Wiz" when she delivers a soul stirring rendition of "Beleive In Yourself," to a quivering, crying character Dorothy played by Diana Ross.
Her 1981 one-woman Broadway show, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music," won a special Tony Award, and the accompanying album, produced by Jones, earned her two Grammy Awards. (Horne won another Grammy, in 1995 for "An Evening With Lena Horne.") In it, the 64-year-old singer used two renditions – one straight and the other gut-wrenching – of "Stormy Weather" to give audiences a glimpse of the spiritual odyssey of her five-decade career.
Horne was not only a gifted singer, actress she was also a committed activist.
Horne used her celebrity status for the civil rights movement, even once throwing a lamp at a customer who made a racial slur in a Beverly Hills restaurant. She joined thousands of fellow protestors during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.
With all that this incredible woman accomplished I will remember and honor her talent, music and timeless beauty.