Lena Horne was a movie star, one of the most glamorous women in the world and a stylish singer. She was also important as a civil rights pioneer.
In Panama Hattie, the 1942 movie of Cole Porter's Broadway score, Horne sang Just One of Those Things and was probably the first African-American to be depicted in a Hollywood movie as a real person and not just a servant or a spear-wielding native in the Tarzan movies. As jazz critic Will Friedwald writes, "Lena Horne was the Jackie Robinson of show business."
Horne (1917-2010) is memorialized by Mary Wilson in Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project. Wilson herself knows a thing or two about fame and being a musical icon as one of the founding members of the Supremes. In 1988 she and her sister Supremes, Diana Ross and Florence Ballard, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Wilson and the Larry Dunlap Trio perform Horne hits, such as her theme Stormy Weather, Honeysuckle Rose and Yesterday When I Was Young. The host and narrator of the evening is James Gavin, author of the well-regarded Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne as well as biographies of Chet Baker and (forthcoming) Peggy Lee. The concert, which includes visual images from Horne's career and interviews with her, is at 8 tonight at Ferguson Hall of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa. $33.50-$46.50. (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045; strazcenter.org.