Monday, May 10, 2010

A Day The Music Died

by Dick Mac

I listen to the NPR "Marketplace Report" every morning, and when they get to their market report, they play a introductory song. When the European and Asian markets are doing well, the song is "We're In The Money," when those markets are mixed, the song is "It Do't Mean A Thing (If You Ain't Got That Swing)," and when those markets are doing poorly, the song is "Stormy Weather." It's a clever and entertaining branding device.

When I lived in San Francisco in the late 1970s (or was that the mid-1970s?), a guy I dated turned me onto the LP record "Watch What Happens," by Lena Horne and Gabor Szabo; and the record has been in my collection since.

Horne's rendition of the title track is (IMNSHO) the finest recording of the classic. The record also includes songs penned by Lennon-McCartney, Bacharach-David, George Harrison, and others.

Lena Horne died last night. She was 92. See her Wikipedia entry here: Lena Horne

Horne was vocal about and active in the movement to end racial discrimination in the United States, as described in this entry from Wikipedia:

Horne was long involved with the Civil Rights movement. In 1941, she sang at Cafe Society and worked with Paul Robeson, a singer who also combated American racial discrimination. During World War II, when entertaining the troops for the USO, she refused to perform "for segregated audiences or for groups in which German POWs were seated in front of African American servicemen", according to her Kennedy Center biography. Since the US Army refused to allow integrated audiences, she wound up putting on a show for a mixed audience of black US soldiers and white German POWs. She was at an NAACP rally with Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi the weekend before Evers was assassinated. She also met President John F. Kennedy at the White House two days before he was assassinated. She was at the March on Washington and spoke and performed on behalf of the NAACP, SNCC and the National Council of Negro Women. She also worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. She was a member of the prominent organization, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Horne was not without her critics, and throughout my life I heard conflicting tales of her being "too white" and "not black enough" and an "Uncle Tom" and "not active enough in the struggle" and many other accusations based on her race. Those criticisms seemed so dramatic then, and seem so petty now.

Horne is survived by her daughter Gail and her granddaughter Jenny Lumet, and was predeceased by her son Edwin.

Today is a another day the music died.

1 comment:

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