Lena Horne

I'm guessing most tributes to Lena Horne will include the 1943 version of "Stormy Weather", but it's interesting to compare that young girl's intuitive understanding with a bluesier version sung later in life. Not a false caesura in either version, by the way, which ought to teach pop idols the difference between genuine emotion and sentiment, but probably won't.

The other two songs, "Moon River" and "It's Not Easy Being Green", I posted for myself. I'd like to know what went through her head while rehearsing "Green". With that voice and those impossible cheekbones, this woman could have run the table as Hollywood's Cleopatra, Shakespeare's Dark Lady, Sally Hemings or the Queen of Sheba-- but in that benighted time, she couldn't even hang on to the part of Julie in Showboat. The studio cast Ava Gardner in the "controversial" role of a "high yellow gal" passing for white in order to marry the man she loved.

So Lena finally said to hell with Hollywood, went home to New York and became a chanteuse instead. Ironically this was a winning decision: Hollywood discards its leading ladies quickly, whereas jazz and blues singing, like painting, rewards longevity and depth.

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