Ruth Leon recommends… The Lady and Her Music – Lena Horne

Ruth Leon recommends… The Lady and Her Music – Lena Horne

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

May 20, 2023

The Lady and Her Music – Lena Horne

Click here to watch

If I say Lena Horne, you say Stormy Weather, right? Yes, of course, but so much more. When I think of my greatest evenings in the theatre and, at my age, there have been many, Lena’s one-woman show, The Lady and Her Music, has a place of honour. As does she.

Her mentors were Adelaide Hall, Billy Strayhorn and Billy Eckstine and her memory has surpassed them all. There were so many ‘firsts’ for this Black woman who was not only a movie star and one of the top nightclub singers of all time, but also a civil rights activist at a time, the middle of the 20th century, when that wasn’t a comfortable place for a Black performer to be. Lena Horne was fearless, fielding criticism for her courageous stands against the racism of the Hollywood system and her support of unpopular civil rights initiatives.

She lobbied presidents (JFK was a big fan) and corporations, and became the first Black person to win a Tony Award. It was a long career, starting in the chorus line of the Cotton Club  in 1933, when she was 16, until her final recordings, in 2003, when she was 70.

A Broadway theatre has just been named in her honour which prompted me to take a look back at Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than 300 performances on Broadway. Horne still holds the record for the longest-running solo performance in Broadway history. Then she toured it all over the world where it did sell-out business wherever she played.

This excerpt of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, while not nearly long enough, gives a flavour of her dynamism onstage. It includes selections from “From This Moment On,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Stormy Weather,” and “If You Believe.” It’s not much, but it’s enough to demonstrate, if demonstration were needed, why she’s one of my all-time favourites and to make her one of yours.

For me, as for the millions of other admirers who will never forget her, when she was standing on a stage with a microphone, she was supreme. Read more


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    I rember her stopping the tv show on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and having to sing twice “New fangled Tango” don’t move, why move. Wonderful.