Building Rhythm Together for Christ's Love

December 15, 2018

Thinking About Jazz

Lena Horne:
Jazz Voice to Political Activist

Born on June 30, 1917 in Brooklyn, Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist whose career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television, and theater.  Her early life was disrupted by numerous moves after her father, Edwin Horne, Jr., a numbers kingpin left the family and moved to Pittsburgh.  Her mother Edna was an actress who traveled with a black theatre troupe.  After years of living with extended family members, at age 12 her mother took her back to New York.  At age 16, she joined the chorus of the Cotton Club and became a nightclub performer.  At 18 she moved to Pittsburgh to live with her father where she connected and learned with Billy Strayhorn and Billy Eckstine for 5 years.  Moving to Hollywood, she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the 1943 films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather.  Because of the Red Scare and her political activism, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood, returning to her roots as a nightclub performer.  Horne took part in the March on Washington in August 1963 and continued to work as a performer, both in nightclubs and on television while releasing well-received record jazz albums. She announced her retirement in March 1980, but the next year starred in a one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which ran for more than three hundred performances on Broadway.  She then toured the country in the show, earning numerous awards and accolades.  Horne continued recording and performing sporadically into the 1990s, disappearing from the public eye in 2000. Horne died of congestive heart failure on May 9, 2010, at the age of 92. This presentation of Lena’s life and music will be offered by Patricia Willard who knew her personally.

Other 2018 TAJ Events

February 24th
Buck Hill:  The Wailin' Mailman

June 30th
Art Blakey:  Jazz Messenger

August 25th
U Street Jazz:  D.C. Jazz

October 27th
Bill Evans:  A New Tonality

December 15th
Lena Horne:  From Jazz Voice to Political Activist


Thinking About Jazz is a public service brought to you by Southwest Renaissance Development Corporation (SRDC)--a cultural ministry arm of Westminster DC. 

This free educational experience happens every other month from 1-3pm  on the 4th Saturday (except December).  Each one focuses on a different giant or genre of jazz and features vintage video footage and select audio recordings delivered by experts in the subject matter.

The material along with Q & A allows participants to go deeper into the history, stories and power of the art form and those who have created it.

Light refreshments are served and door prizes are given.

  • Rev. Brian Hamilton, President
  • Lloyd Jordan, Chair
  • Dick Smith, Jazz Night Program Director

Marilyn Abraham, James Besley, Yolanda R. Coleman, Vyllorya Evans, Gwen Fleming, Wilma Goldstein, Sue K. Gresham, Blanche Hamilton, Alicia Hetzner, Donald Roe, Tangela Roe, Brenda Wilder, Von Deleah Williams
The Thinking About Jazz Committee
holds a planning meeting the last Saturday of January, March, May, July, Sept, Nov, 10am to noon at Westminster.  You are invited to join this committee!  Check the calendar for the next meeting.  You will enjoy your welcome to the committee and the opportunity to be part of planning another great Thinking About Jazz event.