Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy Weather

Jazz great and all-around superb lady Lena Horne has died at age 92.

I heard a story years back, possibly apocryphal, that when Lena first started checking out the Harlem jazz clubs back in the early ‘30s, she was given an odd bit of encouragement from Billie Holiday (who was already a superstar in that context):

The two had been introduced, and a new set about to begin. Billie suggested to young Lena that she get up there and do a song or two in the star’s place to kick it off. Lena protested, saying that she didn’t know how to sing the blues. Billie pushed back: “You got a man treats you bad? You got bills? You got kids? Get up there and sing the blues.” And so she did.

Hilarious since, again, Lena was only about 16 at the time. But she wound up joining the mike chorus at the Cotton Club right after that.

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