Without overstating the obvious, we have to acknowledge that it was a very different world that Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born into on June 30, 1917. Yet, with all those obstacles she forged a career that spanned well-over seven decades. Of equal importance is the way she forged her career: through the use of talent, intelligence, style and grace. It may be hard for some of us to grasp the importance of her groundbreaking achievements, being that we are so far removed from the context, but suffice to say she broke ground in many instances where there was no ground before.

From Lena’s joining Charlie Barnet’s band in 1940 as the featured vocalist, to her work for the major motion picture studios to headlining on Broadway, Lena Horne graciously paved the way for countless generations to follow. As an activist she tirelessly and unselfishly campaigned for full citizenship rights for African-Americans during a time when putting her name on the line could have easily affected her entire professional well-being.

Ms. Horne we honor you for your artistry, tenacity, graciousness and humanity. GFM would like to extend a very humble thank you to one of our friends on FB Cheryl Sorrels for providing us with this clip from an interview that Lena Horne gave in 1997.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.