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Be Like Lena Horne: 3 of Her Iconic Traits You Can Emulate


Are you a fan of jazz? Then you know exactly who is pictured here!  Lena Mary Calhoun Horne, born in New York’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in 1917, was one of the world’s most versatile performers for over 65 years. Her career began when she joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performer. 

Horne performed for a global audience until she was nearly 82 years of age.  This made me curious: What were some of the traits that made Horne such an enduring legend on the stage, screen and in the music industry? Here are 3 standouts that you can also develop to ensure your own long-lasting success:

1. Be True To Yourself: Horne officially headed to Hollywood in the 1940s, but became critical of the “mostly supporting roles” she was handed and “tired of being typecast as a Negro who stands against a pillar singing a song. I did that 20 times too often.” In the 1950s, she grew extremely frustrated with Hollywood and returned her focus to her nightclub career. 

2. Develop Tenacity: Horne also found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood due to her affiliation with Communist-backed groups popular with some celebrities. After disavowing those ties, she returned to work in the late 1950s and continued to sing, dance and act for the next 40+ years, earning multiple Grammys, Kennedy Center Honors and a Tony Award.   

3. Take a Stand: Horne was more than a star. She was extremely active in fighting for civil rights by refusing to perform for segregated USO audiences and working with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws. Horne also performed and spoke at the 1963 March on Washington.  

KAUTE admires Lena Horne and her role in our national history.  Her impact can be felt far and wide today.  What lessons did YOU learn about Lena that you can adopt going forward?  We would love to know!  Share in the comments below.  

Sources: The Atlantic Magazine, Veranda, Vanity Fair (image)


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