Lena Horne


Oral History Information

Interview Date
Birth Date
Deceased Date
Job Title
Vocalist, Actress

This audio only interview was conducted for a radio program by Dan Del Fiorentino and donated to the NAMM Oral History program: Lena Horne was a popular singer and actress who was dedicated to the Civil Rights movement beginning in the 1950s. She began her career singing in the chorus line at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem, New York back in 1933. This experience introduced her to jazz and many of its top performers including Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. She began singing with Charlie Barnet's band, which lead to a string of recordings. By the early 1940s she was appearing in hit Hollywood movies including "Cabin in the Sky" and her incredible career was off.  Ms. Horne never forgot her struggles in the early part of her career and sought to make things better for other up and coming performers. She joined elements of the Civil Rights movement including performing with Paul Robeson, marched on Washington, and worked with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. She continued to perform until the 1990s.

Image courtesy of the Downbeat archives.