Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne passes at the age of 92

Singer/actress pioneer Lena Horne passed away yesterday, on Mothers' Day at the age of 92. Of the Black female pioneers in the film and music industry she (along with Miriam Anderson) is one that I especially held close to my heart.
She was not just a Black history bite of information to me. She was on the Cosby Show, Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, the Wiz. She was around to inspire me as a little girl growing up in the 80's. Most influential for me was her duet with Kermit the Frog singing "It's Not Easy Being Green" which is one of my all-time favorites. Children can recognize skin-color and ethnicity differences at a very young age. It is so amazing to break the issue down for a child, to reach their insecurities and offer reassurance in a song.
So in my adult mind I know that at 92 she has lived a full life. She was just as beautiful in her late years as she was in her youth. She made her mark as a jazz singer. I can remember playing her "Stormy Weather" on number of Saturday nights that I have spent alone. But the child in me is mourning Glenda the Good Witch. I am mourning the person who told me it was OK to be me in a way I could understand even as she was coming to grips with that herself.
My identity is very clear to me now, I am a black
woman, I’m not alone, I’m free. I say I’m free because I no longer have to be a credit, I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.

Her presence will be missed. May she rest in peace.

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