May 11, 2010: A Piece of Peace – Celebrating Ms. Lena Horne

“The only certainties are death and taxes”…so said Benjamin Franklin. But there are many more certainties in life than that. We can be certain that the sun will rise each morning and that darkness will fall each night. We can be certain that love will touch our lives; that we will know what happiness and sadness feels like and that we will be hungry again tomorrow – no matter how much we eat today and that politicians, when they are on the hook, will try to wiggle off of it. The one thing we cannot be certain of is when these things will happen – or how long they will last.

Every year, mothers around the world are honored for their tenacity, strength, beauty and dynamism. For centuries now mothers have bared the fruit of the earth – and have been the surefire muscle that keeps it all together; the “glue” as they say. This Mothers’ Day, the world lost another dynamic mother – the infamous and radiant, Ms. Lena Mary Calhoun Horne. Up until the golden age of 92, she naturally lived up to the expectation of her birth name, “Lena”, both in spirit and in Greek origin; meaning bright or most beautiful woman.

With a high interest in theatre myself, I discovered the unparalleled talent and beauty of Ms. Lena Horne when I was only 16 years old and on the stage in high school – the same age that she was when she first took step to the stage as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club. She later became a singer there and accelerated all the way to her first Broadway production, Dance with Your Gods in 1935. In 1938, she landed her first film role in The Duke is Tops; in 1940 she became the first African-American singer to tour with a white band and in 1942, she was the first black to sign a long-term movie contract with MGM Studios in Hollywood. Needless to say, Ms. Lena Horne never allowed anything or anyone to get in the way of her attaining her dreams. Strangely enough, my daughter Nia is sixteen years old and a thriving and aspiring actress. Her industry icons are Cicely Tyson, Angela Bassett, Nia Long, Diahann Carroll and yes, Lena Horne. Nia connected with the genius of Lena Horne in the 1978 phenomena The Wiz, an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz.

The contributions of this Legendary American Jazz singer, dancer, actress, civil rights activist and comrade to many, will live on forever and she will be deeply missed. Lena Horne’s accolades in radio, television and film have made her one of the worlds’ most distinguished and respectable individuals. In a later interview, Horne said, “The best time in my life is now because I’m quiet and I’m logical and I accept without flying off the handle – sometimes I do”.

Through the loss of a husband, son and father all in one surreal year and after surviving countless years in show business, in her later years, Horne said that she finally found peace.

I certainly hope that this past Mother’s Day you took an opportunity to tell the people you love just how very much you love and appreciate them. Mothers are here today and gone tomorrow. After all, nothing is certain but the stars, like Lena, that God places in the beautiful celestial sky. A piece of heaven gives us a piece of peace like no other.

Love for all Mothers around the world!

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