I like to read biographies on occasion. As a matter of fact, I just picked up Donald Bogle’s Brown Sugar: Over 100 Years of America’s Black Female Superstars. I’m sure the following celebrity is included:
In his new biography, Stormy Weather, James Gavin offers a fascinating study of a complicated woman and the complicated times that shaped her. Gavin interviewed Horne, now 92, only once, in 1994, a few years before she withdrew into reclusion. But through conversations with key figures and probing research, he delivers a portrait of a very human artist who is as compelling for her foibles as her accomplishments. Key to that portrait is Horne’s family background, which includes an adored but absent father, a jealous mother and an activist grandmother who forbade Lena from playing with white children but also harbored disdain for lower-class blacks. That girl evolves into a beautiful young woman who performs for white audiences in clubs where black performers are kept segregated and black fans shunned, and a Hollywood starlet who yearns to defy racial stereotypes as she sees prime roles go to white actresses. Yet the frustration and bitterness afflicting Horne — qualities mined in some of her most triumphant performances, notably 1981’s Broadway smash Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music— aren’t just written off to prejudice and a troubled youth. Gavin documents critics’ qualms and Horne’s own doubts about her abilities; her films, concerts and recordings are zestfully dissected. (Read Full Article or Read an Excerpt)
Happy reading, y’all.