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Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne

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Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

At long last, the first serious biography of entertainment legend Lena Horne — the celebrated star of film, stage, and music who became one of the first African-American icons.

At the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, Halle Berry thanked Lena Horne for paving the way for her to become the first black recipient of a Best Actress Oscar. Though limited, mostly to guest singing appearances in splashy Hollywood musicals, "the beautiful Lena Horne," as she was often called, became a pioneering star for African Americans in the 1940s and fifties. Now James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, draws on a wealth of unmined material and hundreds of interviews — one of them with Horne herself — to give us the defining portrait of an American icon.

Gavin has gotten closer than any other writer to the celebrity who has lived in reclusion since 1998. Incorporating insights from the likes of Ruby Dee, Tony Bennett, Diahann Carroll, Arthur Laurents, and several of Horne's fellow chorines from Harlem's Cotton Club, Stormy Weather offers a fascinating portrait of a complex, even tragic Horne — a stunning talent who inspired such giants of showbiz as Barbra Streisand, Eartha Kitt, and Aretha Franklin, but whose frustrations with racism, and with tumultuous, root-less childhood, left wounds too deep to heal. The woman who emerged was as angry as she was luminous.

From the Cotton Club's glory days and the back lots of Hollywood's biggest studios to the glitzy but bigoted hotels of Las Vegas's heyday, this behind-the-scenes look at an American icon is as much a story of the limits of the American dream as it is a masterful, ground-breaking biography.

Review:

"The clouds rarely lift in this grim, perceptive biography of Hollywood's first African-American screen siren. Gavin (Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker) makes clear that much of Horne's perpetual frustration stemmed from the racism black entertainers faced in the pre — civil rights era. MGM glamorized her as a darker version of its white starlets, but gave her small roles and singing cameos that Southern theaters could conveniently excise. As a cabaret chanteuse and Vegas headliner, she battled segregated nightclubs that let her sing to, but not drink with, white customers, and racial attitudes tainted her relationships with black audiences and with her white husband and lovers. Still, Horne's failures and heartaches seem largely determined by her talent and character. Her movie career, Gavin contends, fizzled more because of limited acting ability than studio perfidy, while a chaotic childhood left her a 'nasty woman' ready to 'freeze people into oblivion.' Indeed, her unhappiness shaped a successful stage persona — a cross between 'a cobra' and 'a panther devouring her prey' — that infused romantic lyrics with scornful irony. As Horne grows from 'joyless toddler' to chilly, bitter diva, Gavin's clear-eyed account makes her the author of her life, and her pain. Photos. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

There's plenty to argue about with regard to James Gavin's biography of Lena Horne — it's much too long, not very well written, repetitious — but not with the title he chose. "Stormy Weather" may have been written in 1933 by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler for Ethel Waters. Within a decade, however, Horne took it as her own, making it her "lifelong theme song." She sang and recorded it so often that... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

From the Cotton Club's glory days to the glitzy but bigoted hotels of Las Vegas's heyday, this behind-the-scenes look at American icon Lena Horne is as much a story of the limits of the American dream as it is a masterful biography. b&w photos.

Synopsis:

At long last, the first serious biography of entertainment legend Lena Horne — the celebrated star of film, stage, and music who became one of the first African-American icons.

At the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, Halle Berry thanked Lena Horne for paving the way for her to become the first black recipient of a Best Actress Oscar. Though limited, mostly to guest singing appearances in splashy Hollywood musicals, "the beautiful Lena Horne," as she was often called, became a pioneering star for African Americans in the 1940s and fifties. Now James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, draws on a wealth of unmined material and hundreds of interviews — one of them with Horne herself — to give us the defining portrait of an American icon.

Gavin has gotten closer than any other writer to the celebrity who has lived in reclusion since 1998. Incorporating insights from the likes of Ruby Dee, Tony Bennett, Diahann Carroll, Arthur Laurents, and several of Horne's fellow chorines from Harlem's Cotton Club, Stormy Weather offers a fascinating portrait of a complex, even tragic Horne — a stunning talent who inspired such giants of showbiz as Barbra Streisand, Eartha Kitt, and Aretha Franklin, but whose frustrations with racism, and with tumultuous, root-less childhood, left wounds too deep to heal. The woman who emerged was as angry as she was luminous.

From the Cotton Club's glory days and the back lots of Hollywood's biggest studios to the glitzy but bigoted hotels of Las Vegas's heyday, this behind-the-scenes look at an American icon is as much a story of the limits of the American dream as it is a masterful, ground-breaking biography.

About the Author

James Gavin has written about some of the most significant black musical figures of our time, including Nina Simone, Harry Belafonte, and Miriam Makeba. His 300+ CD liner note essays include Grammy-nominated article for the box set Ella Fitzgerald - The Legendary Decca Recordings. He is the author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker and Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743271431
Author:
Gavin, James
Publisher:
Atria Books
Author:
Gavin, James, III
Subject:
Entertainment & Performing Arts - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Singers
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Composers & Musicians - General
Subject:
cultural heritage
Subject:
Singers -- United States.
Subject:
African American women singers
Subject:
Biography-Composers and Musicians
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
608
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.125 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Featured Titles
Arts and Entertainment » Music » General Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Popular Performers
Biography » Composers and Musicians
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography » General

Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne Used Hardcover
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Product details 608 pages Atria Books - English 9780743271431 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The clouds rarely lift in this grim, perceptive biography of Hollywood's first African-American screen siren. Gavin (Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker) makes clear that much of Horne's perpetual frustration stemmed from the racism black entertainers faced in the pre — civil rights era. MGM glamorized her as a darker version of its white starlets, but gave her small roles and singing cameos that Southern theaters could conveniently excise. As a cabaret chanteuse and Vegas headliner, she battled segregated nightclubs that let her sing to, but not drink with, white customers, and racial attitudes tainted her relationships with black audiences and with her white husband and lovers. Still, Horne's failures and heartaches seem largely determined by her talent and character. Her movie career, Gavin contends, fizzled more because of limited acting ability than studio perfidy, while a chaotic childhood left her a 'nasty woman' ready to 'freeze people into oblivion.' Indeed, her unhappiness shaped a successful stage persona — a cross between 'a cobra' and 'a panther devouring her prey' — that infused romantic lyrics with scornful irony. As Horne grows from 'joyless toddler' to chilly, bitter diva, Gavin's clear-eyed account makes her the author of her life, and her pain. Photos. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , From the Cotton Club's glory days to the glitzy but bigoted hotels of Las Vegas's heyday, this behind-the-scenes look at American icon Lena Horne is as much a story of the limits of the American dream as it is a masterful biography. b&w photos.
"Synopsis" by , At long last, the first serious biography of entertainment legend Lena Horne — the celebrated star of film, stage, and music who became one of the first African-American icons.

At the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, Halle Berry thanked Lena Horne for paving the way for her to become the first black recipient of a Best Actress Oscar. Though limited, mostly to guest singing appearances in splashy Hollywood musicals, "the beautiful Lena Horne," as she was often called, became a pioneering star for African Americans in the 1940s and fifties. Now James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker, draws on a wealth of unmined material and hundreds of interviews — one of them with Horne herself — to give us the defining portrait of an American icon.

Gavin has gotten closer than any other writer to the celebrity who has lived in reclusion since 1998. Incorporating insights from the likes of Ruby Dee, Tony Bennett, Diahann Carroll, Arthur Laurents, and several of Horne's fellow chorines from Harlem's Cotton Club, Stormy Weather offers a fascinating portrait of a complex, even tragic Horne — a stunning talent who inspired such giants of showbiz as Barbra Streisand, Eartha Kitt, and Aretha Franklin, but whose frustrations with racism, and with tumultuous, root-less childhood, left wounds too deep to heal. The woman who emerged was as angry as she was luminous.

From the Cotton Club's glory days and the back lots of Hollywood's biggest studios to the glitzy but bigoted hotels of Las Vegas's heyday, this behind-the-scenes look at an American icon is as much a story of the limits of the American dream as it is a masterful, ground-breaking biography.

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