Born in Brooklyn in 1917, Lena Horne became one of the most popular African American performers of the 1940s and 1950s. At the age of sixteen she was hired as a dancer in the chorus of Harlem’s famous Cotton Club. There she was introduced to the growing community of jazz performers, including Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, and Duke Ellington. She also met Harold Arlen, who would write her biggest hit, “Stormy Weather.” For the next five years she performed in New York nightclubs, on Broadway, and touring with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra. Singing with Barnet’s primarily white swing band, Horne was one of the first black women to successfully work on both sides of the color line.
Within a few years, Horne moved to Hollywood, where she played small parts in the movies. At this time, most black actors were kept from more serious roles, and though she was beginning to achieve a high level of notoriety, the color barrier was still strong. “In every other film I just sang a song or two; the scenes could be cut out when they were sent to local distributors in the South. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a chance to act,” she said. “CABIN IN THE SKY and STORMY WEATHER were the only movies in which I played a character who was involved in the plot.” Her elegant style and powerful voice were unlike any that had come before, and both the public and the executives in the entertainment industry began to take note. By the mid-’40s, Horne was the highest paid black actor in the country. Her renditions of “Deed I Do” and “As Long as I Live,” and Cole Porter’s “Just One Of Those Things” became instant classics. For the thousands of black soldiers abroad during World War II, Horne was the premier pin-up girl. (From PBS, American Masters)
Many of the people who today have some form of progressive cognitive disorder were growing up in the 1930's and 40's. The recordings that molded their musical tastes were most likely released in those decades and the decades of the 50's and 60's. It is that music that will provoke the strongest positive reminiscences. The most influential singers and musicians of that era are included in the American Legends CD collection. Each track has been digitally remastered for clean, clear sound, and each contains a short biography of the artist. The biography can be a great jumping-off point for a conversation about the artist, about music in general or about the time period; a time period that is undoubtedly very important to the person in your care. The American Legends CDs offer an affordable way to build a library of reminiscence music.
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|Stage||Early Stage, Middle Stage, Late Stage|
|Title||Lena Horne: Lady of Song|