More Than Music

This biographical analysis will detail the life of the Pop sensation, Lena Horne. The data presented includes information regarding the childhood and young adult life of the singer, and will discuss the influence her personal life had on her musical career. In addition to discussing the phenomenal music career that Lena Horne had, her social impact, and extra curricular career endeavors will be analyzed. This research was collected from sources including written texts, online articles, newspaper and journal publications, and video interviews. Conclusary remarks will offer connections between all aspects of Lena Horne’s life and the current implications of her music. So many artists in today’s society do not see the responsibility that comes with being a musician or public figure. Lena Horne was truly the exception. She saw the value of her platform and put it to good use. Lena Marie Calhoun Horne was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. She was born into a two parent home. Her father was a man by the name of Edwin Fletcher “Teddy” Horne. He was supposedly related to South Carolinian politician, John Calhoun. Her father was a well known gambler and left Lena, her mother, and siblings behind when Lena was only 3 years old. Her mother, Edna Scottron was a well traveled actress and for that reason, Lena Horne was mostly raised by her paternal grandparents. As a child, Lena Horne relocated to live with her uncle in Fort Valley Georgia. She later moved back to New York with her actress mother where she attended an all girls high school and began to develop her love for music, acting, and activism. At the age of 16 Lena Horne became a part of the chorus line in a club in New York City. The Cotton Club is a notable whites only club in Harlem where many of the most famous Black musicians performed in the early to mid 1900’s. It was at this club that Lena Horne later met Adelaide Hall, whom she credits with providing great mentorship. A few years later, her life really began to take off. Lena Horne performed with the Noble Sissle’s Orchestra, Charlie Barnet, Café Society, the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, and Café Tracadero in Los Angles. In addition to her very successful musical career, Ms. Horne took after her mother and began involving herself in acting. She acted in a 1938 film named The Bronze Venus, where she was able to display her vocal abilities in addition to her new found acting talent. Keeping true to her first love of music, most of Lena Horne’s theatre and on screen roles involved singing. She played in several MGM musicals including Cabin in the sky. The talent of Lena Horne was well known to everyone including whites, considering her start at The Cotton Club. Still race held her back from excelling to positions in which she definitely deserved to be in. After a few years in the film and theatre industry, Ms. Horne went back to her nightclub roots. She performed in nightclubs all over the nation and in 1957 produced a self titled album; Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria. She continued to perform in many TV shows and movies and even costarred with Harry Belafonte in one of the most popular TV specials at the time. Though the musical and acting career of Lena Horne was truly phenomenal, there was still so much more to her. She worked with fellow musician, Paul Robeson to integrate the military audiences they performed for. She even walked off of stage at a concert in which the Black soldiers were required to be seated in the back of the audience. Lena Horne took part in the famous March on Washington in 1963 to advocate for social justice of Black Americans. She was also involved and active with the National Council of Negro Women and NAACP. She was even a victim of the Red Scare. The Red Scare was a ludicrous accusation of many prominent figures. Where mass numbers of public figures were accused of being communist for the personal views on politics and social issues. Lena Horne never allowed this to silence her or stop her from advocating for what she believed was right. In addition to all of her success musically and her social activism, Lena Horne still maintained a strong work-life balance. Lena married Louis Jordan Jones at the age of 20, whom she had a daughter, Gail, and a Son Edwin with. They divorced just 7 years later, and Horne was remarried by 1947 to Lennie Hayton, a prominent music executive at the time. Years later she confessed in an interview that the marriage was a tool for her advance her career. She was rumored to have had many affairs during her marriage to Mr. Hayton. In conclusion, the research presented in this paper shows the breadth and longevity of Ms. Lena Horne. She was truly a beauty inside and out and her legacy will live on forever, because of the level of excellence and grace she put out into the world. A woman of many talents, Lena Horne was an inspiration to others outside of music. Her political and social activism made her art mean something and that should be the goal of every musical artist. With fame comes responsibility and if more artist saw this responsibility, the predominant ideals in society would be much better. She believed that we are all great, and wanted everyone to see the power of their worth. As Lena Horne once said, ” You have to be taught to be second class, you are not born that way.”
Lena Horne
A biographical analysis by Lena Wright
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Brooklyn, NY 1917
Horne moved to Atlanta GA at the age of 5 and was raised by her grandparents and uncle
Rise to fame
At the age of 16 she began performing at the Cotton Club in Harlem NY
Featured films/ tv/ plays
The Bronze Venus Panama Hattie Thats Entertainment III Show Boat Til the Clouds Roll by
see here
Family life
Lena Horne had a daughter and son with her first husband who she divorced after 7 years She later remarried
Social Activism
Lena Horne was an active member of NAACP SNCC and National Council of Negro Women
Her Legacy
Lena Horne died on May 5, 2010 at the age of 92 and her legacy of greatness will live on forever
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