Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 45

Lena Horne - Early career, Changes of direction, Tributes and re-releases, Personal life, Albums

singer actress usa becoming

Singer and actress, born in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Raised by her actress mother, by the age of 16 she was dancing at Harlem's Cotton Club, becoming a popular singer with bands such as those of Noble Sissle and Teddy Wilson. She performed in the musical Blackbirds of 1939, and went into film, becoming the first African-American to be signed to a long-term contract (although her scenes were sometimes excised for distribution in the South). The title song of Stormy Weather (1943) became her signature. She was blacklisted in the early 1950s for little more than her friendship with Paul Robeson and her outspokenness about discrimination, but she performed in the musical Jamaica (1957) and later made several other films. She toured Europe and the USA as a nightclub singer, spoke out increasingly against racism, and published her autobiography, Lena (1965).

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