Ruth Leon recommends… Lena Horne tribute to Nat King Cole

Ruth Leon recommends… Lena Horne tribute to Nat King Cole

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

June 25, 2022

Lena Horne tribute to Nat King Cole
Click here to watch  (best quality)
Click here to watch

I just read that a Broadway theatre is being renamed for Lena Horne. Not before time, say I.

Lena (it is a measure of her fame that we can immediately identify her from just her first name) was supremely talented, impossibly beautiful, and fierce. She was the first African American woman to become a household name in the racially closed shop that was the Broadway and Hollywood of the 30s and 40s. She became a star as a singer, appearing with orchestras in nightclubs throughout the US, often in venues where she, because she was Black, was barred from staying or eating with her bandmates. She integrated Broadway and then turned her sights to Hollywood and, in the 40s, was one of the highest paid stars in show business.

A lifelong social activist, she worked tirelessly to ensure that other Black performers had opportunities that she earned for them. She never pulled her punches, her fame and determination allowing her to espouse causes and opinions that were taboo in the racist America of the 40s and 50s.

Most of us now remember her as a singer so here’s a medley kindly sent to me by the fine singer/pianist Eric Comstock from a 1965 Perry Como     television special which paid tribute to Lena’s great friend, Nat King Cole.  The audio and video quality isn’t good on this clip so here too is a 1994 TV special recorded at the Supper Club in New York.

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  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Do you remember Sunday Night at the London Palladium on tv? She starred one evening and stood and sang “A New Fangled Tango”. The audience loved it so much I think she had to sing it again. “Dont’move, why move” Ha!

  • Colin48 says:

    The 1965 Perry Como/Lena Horne tribute to Nat King Cole, which I have seen many times on YouTube, was absolutely beautiful, despite the transmission quality.

    The 1994 show seems to have been mimed by Ms. Horne.