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Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music
1981 Broadway poster
Productions 1981–1982 Broadway
1982–1983 US National Tour, Canada
1984 West End, Stockholm, Sweden

Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music was a 1981 Broadway musical revue, written for and starring American singer and actress Lena Horne. The musical was produced by Michael Frazier and Fred Walker, and the subsequent musical cast album was produced by Quincy Jones. The show opened on May 12, 1981, and after 333 performances, closed on June 30, 1982, Horne's 65th birthday. Horne then toured the show in the U.S. and Canada, and performed the show in London and Stockholm in the Summer of 1984.


Lena Horne (born June 30, 1917– May 9, 2010),[1] is an American singer and actress. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of sixteen and became a band singer and nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood where she had small parts in numerous movies, and much more substantial parts in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather (1943). Due to the red scare and her progressive political views, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood. She then returned to her roots as a nightclub performer. In the 1960s Horne took part in the March on Washington, and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs as well as television. Horne announced her retirement in March 1980, and performed a two month farewell tour of the United States that June.[2] Only months later, Horne and her manager, Sherman Sneed, conceived of a one woman show for Broadway which became Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music


Throughout the show Horne sang and danced to a variety of popular songs, songs from Tin Pan Alley and jazz standards, music from films in which she had appeared, and songs specifically written for her. The show sought to portray Horne's life, from her beginnings in show business to the present day.

During the show Horne spoke frankly of the racism that she had encountered in her career, describing how Hollywood producers told her that she opened her mouth too big when she sang, and had devised a special make up for her, "Light Egyptian", which was then applied to white actresses such as Ava Gardner and Hedy Lamarr, who took roles that Horne could have possibly played.

Horne performed her signature song, "Stormy Weather" twice in the show, the first time more subdued than the second, the reprise was recognised by critics as the "indisputiuble high point (of the show)".[3]

Horne was accompanied on stage in many of the songs by dancers and backing singers. The costumes were designed by Giorgio Sant'Angelo.


Critical reception

The Broadway production opened on May 12, 1981, after thirteen previews, and met with an overwhelmingly positive critical response. Stephen Holden, revewing the subsequent album of the show in Rolling Stone, wrote that Horne had "turned the conventions of the one-person extravaganza inside out...Instead of a self-glorifying ego trip, her performance is a shared journey of self-discovery about the human cost (to the audience as well as the singer) of being a symbol", adding that Horne's singing "hits peaks of ferocity, tenderness, playfulness and sheer delight that would have seemed unthinkable in her glamour-girl days...her performance here is a sustained cry of affirmation, and because that affirmation acknowledges the bitterness, cynicism and toughness of the world, it's exceptionally moving in ways that conventionally optimistic musical celebrations rarely are".[4]

Newsweek described Horne as "the most awesome performer to have hit Broadway in years",[2] with the New York Times said Horne "transforms each song...into an intensely personal story that we've never quite heard before".[3]

The show was broadcast on PBS on December 7, 1984. New York magazine's John Leonard positively reviewed the film, adding that Horne transformed "pretty tunes and banal lyrics into something that is both erotic and political, a fretting of raw edges"[5] This performance was later issued on VHS video, it has not been re-issued on DVD as of 2011.


At the 1981 Drama Desk Awards, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music was nominated for four Drama Desk Awards, winning one. It lost the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical to The Pirates of Penzance. Arthur Faria was nominated for the Outstanding Director of a Musical, and Thomas Skelton for Outstanding Lighting Design. Horne won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In 1981 Horne also won a special Tony Award at the 35th Tony Awards, a special award from the New York Drama Critics' Circle,[6] and the City of New York's Handel Medallion.[7]

At the 24th Grammy Awards, Quincy Jones and Horne won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and Horne won the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female.[8]

Musical numbers


Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music
CD album cover
Soundtrack album by Lena Horne
Released 1981
Recorded 1981
Genre Traditional pop music
Vocal jazz
Length 102:44
Language English
Label Qwest
Producer Quincy Jones
Lena Horne chronology
Lena: A New Album
Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music
The Men in My Life
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic link

The soundtrack of the show was produced by Quincy Jones and released by Jones' record label, Qwest Records. At the Grammy Awards of 1982, Quincy Jones and Horne won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and Horne won the Grammy for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Track listing

  1. Overture – 3:23
  2. "From This Moment On" (Cole Porter) – 2:08
  3. "I Got a Name" (Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel) – 4:00
  4. "I'm Glad There Is You" (Jimmy Dorsey, Paul Mertz) – 3:07
  5. "I Want to Be Happy" – 2:50
  6. "Copper Colored Gal" – 1:24
  7. "Raisin' the Rent" – 0:55
  8. "As Long as I Live" (Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler) – 2:15
  9. "The Lady with the Fan" – 1:11
  10. Cotton Club to Hollywood (Dialogue) – 1:05
  11. "Where or When (Hollywood Sequence)" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) – 2:10
  12. "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) – 2:33
  13. Hollywood (Dialogue) – 1:36
  14. "Just One of Those Things" (Porter) – 0:38
  15. "Stormy Weather, Pt. 1" (Arlen, Koehler) – 2:39
  16. "Love" – 1:54
  17. "Broadway (Dialogue)" – 1:22
  18. "Push de Button" – 3:18
  19. "The Lady Is a Tramp" (Rodgers, Hart) – 2:57
  20. "Yesterday, When I Was Young (Her Encore)" (Charles Aznavour, Herbert Kretzmer) – 5:44
  21. "'Deed I Do" (Walter Hirsch, Fred Rose) – 4:10
  22. "Life Goes On" – 3:33
  23. "Watch What Happens" (Norman Gimbel, Michel Legrand) – 3:09
  24. "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (Rodgers, Hammerstein) – 3:46
  25. "Fly" – 5:30
  26. "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" (Rodgers, Hart) – 6:33
  27. "A Lady Must Live" – 2:36
  28. "Love This Business (Dialogue)" – 1:53
  29. "That's What Miracles Are All About" – 3:58
  30. "Early Career (Dialogue)" – 8:13
  31. "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" (Fred E. Ahlert, Joe Young) – 3:19
  32. "Stormy Weather, Pt. 2" – 4:50
  33. "If You Believe" – 2:23
  34. "Stormy Weather (Curtain Music and Bows)" – 1:42


Lena's trio:


  • Cecil Bridgewater
  • Glenn Drewes
  • Frank Foster
  • Peter Gordon
  • Craig S. Harris
  • Jack Jeffers
  • J.D. Parran, Jr.
  • Roger Rosenberg
  • Mort Silver
  • Warren Smith
  • Linda Twine
  • Harold Vick


  1. ^ "Lena Horne – About the Performer | American Masters". PBS. 2005-09-12. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  2. ^ a b James R. Parish and Michael R. Pitts (2003). Quoted in Hollywood Songsters: Garland to O'Connor. Taylor & Francis. p. 386. ISBN 978-0-415-94333-8. Google Book Search. Retrieved on February 3, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Rich, Frank (1981-05-13). "'"Theater: 'Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  4. ^ "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music". Rolling Stone. 1981-11-26. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  5. ^ New York Media, LLC (1984-12-10). Lena Horne: the Lady and Her Music. New York, pg. 85. Retrieved February 3, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Past Awards". Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  7. ^ Lena Horne closes successful Broadway show on birthday Sarasota Journal – July 2, 1982
  8. ^ "24th Annual Grammy Awards – 1982". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 

External links

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