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Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

The Life of Lena Horne

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THE “DEFINITIVE” (VANITY FAIR ) BIOGRAPHY OF LEGEND LENA HORNE—THE CELEBRATED STAR OF STAGE, MUSIC, AND FILM WHO BLAZED A TRAIL FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS IN HOLLYWOOD AND BEYOND

Drawing on a wealth of unmined material and hundreds of interviews— one of them with Lena Horne herself—critically acclaimed author James Gavin gives us a “deftly researched” (The Boston Globe) and authoritative portrait of the American icon. Horne broke down racial barriers in the entertainment industry in the 1940s and ’50s even as she was limited mostly to guest singing appearances in splashy Hollywood musicals. Incorporating insights from the likes of Ruby Dee, Tony Bennett, Diahann Carroll, and Bobby Short, Stormy Weather reveals the many faces of this luminous, complex, strong-willed, passionate, even tragic woman—a stunning talent who inspired such giants as Barbra Streisand, Eartha Kitt, and Aretha Franklin.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 608 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743271448 | 
  • April 2010
List Price $16.00
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Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Stormy Weather?

A. Lena Horne has been a fascination of mine for almost as long as I've loved singers. Before I'd reached my teens I discovered two albums she made in the mid-'70s, "Lena & Michel [Legrand]" and "Lena, A New Album." The sadness, anger, and disappointment I heard in her singing -- the raw passion -- touched me deeply, and led me on a search for all the Lena Horne recordings and movies I could find. I discovered a woman who had worn many masks, and who seemed to have many secrets. The candor of those two albums I loved was often hidden behind a beaming smile (in her early days at M-G-M), a veneer of brittle glamour and "sexy" ferocity (on her famous album from the Waldorf), an offputting iciness (on a 1966 TV appearance with Andy Williams), or a git-down, "liberated" raunchiness that didn't quite ring true for me (in her 1981-1982 Broadway one-woman show). I wondered why she so often kept the vulnerable Lena I loved in hiding. But even after she revealed that side of herself to me for two hours in 1994, when I interviewed her for the New York Times, I didn't think I would ever undertake to write a book about her. That happened ten years later, just after Janet Jackson nearly got to play her in an ABC-TV biopic. (Janet's Super Bowl blunder put an end to that possibility.) The resultant publicity made me realize that a lot of people still cared about Lena Horne, and that her story -- her true story, that is -- had never really been told. It was mired in stale mythology, a lot of it created by Lena and those around her to buttress her position as an icon. I felt the time had come for an honest look at the human being underneath the inspirational figure. Five years later, I admire her even more.

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