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Lena Horne
Lena Horne 1961.JPG
Horne in her stage show, Nine O'Clock Revue, 1961.
Background information
Birth name Lena Mary Calhoun Horne
Born (1917-06-30)June 30, 1917
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Died May 9, 2010(2010-05-09) (aged 92)
New York City, U.S.
Genres Broadway, traditional pop, vocal jazz
Occupation(s) Singer, dancer, actress, civil rights activist, recording artist
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1933–2000
Labels MGM, RCA Victor, United Artists, Blue Note, Qwest/Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Judy Garland, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbra Streisand, Teddy Wilson

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, actress, civil rights activist and dancer.

Family Life

Horne was born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York City. She was raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and in New York City. When she was three years old, her father, Edwin “Teddy” Horne, and her mother, Edna, divorced. She lived with her grandmother, Cora Calhoun, and her grandfather, Edwin Horne. Her mother was an actor and singer, but she was not very successful. She took Lena to the South, where they moved often. When she returned to Brooklyn, she continued to move often. After her career started, Horne married Louis Jones. They divorced later. They had two children, Gail and Edwin “Teddy”. Then, she was married to Leonard George “Lennie” Hayton, a white musician. Because marriage between two races was against the law in California, they were married in Paris, France. In 1970, Horne’s son and father died. The year after, Horne’s husband died of a heart attack.


Even though her parents did not want her to be a singer, she still spent a lot of time doing it. Her family thought that she was able to do better things. Later, she decided to leave high-school to spend her time singing. Horne cared a lot about helping people without equality. Horne was a singer, actress, and dancer. She mostly sang a type of music called the blues and had a strong voice. Horne began her career in the arts by dancing and singing at the Cotton Club when she was 16. When she was 25, Horne became the first black singer with a long term singing contract. A few years later she was very popular in clubs. In the 1940s and 1950s she was in many movies and musicals, such as Stormy Weather, The Wiz, Ziegfeld Follies, Till the Clouds Roll By, Death of a Gunfighter, and in The Duke is Tops. At age 46, Horne wrote a book about herself called “Lena.” She won the Spingarn Medal, the Tony Award, and the Drama Desk Award. Horne won these awards at ages 64 and 66. Horne died on May 9, 2010 in New York City, New York from heart failure, aged 92.[1]

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