All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Lena Horne

Lena Horne Lena Horne

Lena Horne, the beautiful, elegant, talented singer and actress has become a legend. Her strong sense of her own identity, of justice, and of dignity forced her to struggle against social adversity, and allowed her to triumph. Music is just a part of her story.

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born on June 30, 1917, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, her parents separated by the time she was three years old, and she lived for several years with her paternal grandparents. Her early life was nomadic: Horne's mother, who was a fairly unsuccessful stage performer, took the young Lena on the road with her, and they lived in various parts of the South before returning to Horne's grandparents' home in Brooklyn in 1931

Horne had early ambitions to be a performer--against the wishes of her family, who believed that she should aspire to greater heights. Nevertheless, Lena persisted, and in 1933 she began her first professional engagement, at the Cotton Club, the famed Harlem nightclub. She sang in the chorus, and though only sixteen years old, held her own among the older and more experienced cast members. She soon left high school to devote herself to her stage career.

In 1934 Horne had a small role in an all-black Broadway show called ‘Dance with Your Gods.’ The next year, she left the Cotton Club and began performing as the featured singer with Noble Sissle's Society Orchestra under the name “Helena Horne,” which Sissle thought more glamorous than “Lena.” In 1937 Horne quit her tour with the Sissle Orchestra to marry Louis Jones, a friend of her father. During this short and troubled marriage, Horne went to Hollywood to appear in an all-black film called ‘The Duke Is Tops.’ In 1939 she had a role in the musical revue ‘Blackbirds of 1939’ at the Hudson Theatre in New York City; it ran for only eight nights. Before her marriage to Jones ended in divorce, she had two children, Gail and Edwin (”Teddy”).

Read more

Tags

Photos

Albums

Album MGM Records Collection by Lena Horne

MGM Records Collection

Hip-O Select Records
2010

buy
 

Seasons of a Life

Blue Note Records
2005

buy
Album Being Myself by Lena Horne

Being Myself

Blue Note Records
2003

buy

Watch

Similar

Billie Holiday Billie Holiday
voice / vocals
Sarah Vaughan Sarah Vaughan
voice / vocals
Abbey Lincoln Abbey Lincoln
voice / vocals
Dinah Washington Dinah Washington
voice / vocals
Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Artie Shaw Artie Shaw
clarinet
Rosemary Clooney Rosemary Clooney
voice / vocals
Billy Eckstine Billy Eckstine
voice / vocals
June Christy June Christy
voice / vocals
Etta Jones Etta Jones
voice / vocals
Nancy Wilson Nancy Wilson
voice / vocals
Eartha Kitt Eartha Kitt
voice / vocals
Peggy Lee Peggy Lee
voice / vocals
Keely Smith Keely Smith
voice / vocals
Josephine Baker Josephine Baker
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.