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Lena Horne (In Memorial) R.I.P.
Poetry by Lucas Easter Salem-News.com
With her passes a great part of an era in American music and entertainment.
A more recent image of the late Lena Horne
(LOS ANGELES) - The unforgettable Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, who was born June 30, 1917, died today, May 9, 2010, at the age of 92. She will always be remembered as an iconic American singer, actress, and dancer.
Lena Horne first joined the mike chorus of the infamous Cotton Club at the age of sixteen, where she became a popular nightclub performer.
Then she moved to Hollywood, where as Wikipedia explains, she had small parts in numerous movies, "and more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Due to the Red Scare and her left-leaning political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood."
Then Lena went back to her roots as a nightclub performer, and she also increasingly became politically active, taking part in the March on Washington in August 1963.
During this time she continued to work as a performer in nightclubs and on television. She released a number of memorable record albums, and she is still played on radio stations around the country today.
Lena Horne planned her initual retirement in 1980, but then starred in a one woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, the following year. This ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway, earning her numerous awards and accolades. She kept performing right into the 1990's, with her passes a great part of an era in American music and entertainment.
Lena Horne (In Memorial) R.I.P.
I was stunned to be online to see American Idol and not Lena Horne,
In highlighted captions as she was a star before these punks were born.
In the early part of her career she always came through the back door,
Singing in WWII, Black soldiers sat behind German prisoners of war.
Hitler’s German Army that killed U.S. Soldiers in numerous attacks,
Oh, were given V.I.P. seating over Americans whose skin was black,
Ok, she walked off stage and what the USO did threw her for a loop,
Fired her, so she used her own money to travel & sing for the troops.
I cannot imagine a class act like that being treated with bigoted flack,
“Star of the Show” people paid to see being told, “come in the back,”
And only the Caucasian walked in the front to see her first class act,
The first African American ever to sign a long term movie contract,
With the deal she was only used as, “window dressing” on the screen,
Limited to singing that was edited in the South, know what I mean?
All in the business has a signature song hers was, “Stormy Weather,”
Hundreds have sung this movie title and not one has done it better.
Horne refused to go along with studio exec’s, “Latin American Star,”
Knowing when audiences realized she was, “Negro” she’d not go far,
But she carried something that Sammy, Nat, Duke and Satchmo had,
It was a show quality people never saw before and man was it, “Bad!”
Lena was just, “Sweet 16” when she decided a make the jump to go,
Dancing in “The Cotton Club” after being discovered at the Apollo,
Soon becoming a singing sensation & the rest is history as they say,
Playing for packed white patrons with band leader Cab Calloway.
Her stepfather made a deal that she’d never be a Tarzan extra or maid,
Then after she realized, “I would only go so far, I went on the stage,"
Ms. Horne became involved in civil rights after receiving a racial slur,
1960 in Beverly Hills figuring, it can happen to anyone if it did to her.
Tony’s,2 Grammy’s and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award,
Life on the road, movies, musicals, stage plays, she was never bored,
Interviewed she did admit in the beginning she was lonely for a while,
But always in the public eye there she was with that Lena Horne smile.
Books it would take to describe, racial injustice suffered in the past,
However, she is safe at home now as no injustice will forever last,
So many successful years in the entertainment industry, do not mourn,
St. Peter told angels this is how it’s done, “Introducing Lena Horne!”
by Luke Easter
Luke Easter is a poet who writes about things that are very close to the heart of Salem-News.com. Another former U.S. Marine, Luke heals the world with an approach that reaches people on a different level, one known for centuries, yet too often forgotten in the one we live in.
We live in a world of social & economic injustice. The main reason for founding America in the first place was to relieve the oppression of the King of England. Patrick Henry said it best, “give me liberty or give me death.” And yet, all too often death seems to be the only way out. Why is there such a high suicide rate especially among teens, in the land of the free & the home of the brave? What makes headlines? Good news? Ha! More depressing stories than anything else. I feel poetry takes an edge off the hurt of bad news while still delivering it but in a, “glitzy” sort of way. Giving a different perspective. Kind of like slap in the face as opposed to a knife in the back. At least with the slap you’ll live to see another day and you will know whom it’s from. I wasn’t here for the beginning of the world but at 59, I just might be here for the end.
Even though it’s still a knife, rhyme poetry helps to dull the blade. And that’s my job. You can write to Luke Easter at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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