First Black Girl with a Broadway Theater Named After Her – Billboard

Lena Horne was a trailblazer throughout her lifetime, turning into one of many first Black feminine stars to make it to the highest rungs of present enterprise. She’s nonetheless blazing trails 12 years after her demise. The Nederlander Group has introduced that it’s going to rename the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in Horne’s reminiscence later this 12 months — the primary time a Broadway theatre has been named for a Black girl.



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Playbill experiences that the title change follows an settlement between Black Theater United and Broadway’s three main landlords, who every agreed to rename a minimum of one among their Broadway theaters for a Black artist. The Shubert Group beforehand introduced that its Cort Theatre can be renamed for actor James Earl Jones (who continues to be residing at 91), whereas Jujamcyn has had a venue named for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson since 2005, two weeks after his demise.

Ariana DeBose introduced the renaming of the 2 theaters in honor of Horne and Jones on the seventy fifth Tony Awards on June 12, which she hosted. It was becoming that DeBose would assist unfold the information as a result of Horne unquestionably paved the way in which for the success of performers of shade like DeBose, who received an Oscar in March for West Facet Story; in addition to Jennifer Hudson, who clinched EGOT standing on the Tonys as a producer of finest musical winner A Unusual Loop; and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald.

“I’m overjoyed that the Nederlander Group is honoring Lena Horne’s highly effective legacy by renaming a theatre in her honor,” McDonald stated in a press release. “Illustration is every thing. A Black girl being acknowledged and memorialized on this approach is highly effective. Lena Horne was a girl of fierce expertise, unimaginable energy, and profound conviction. With the utmost grace, she broke down boundaries. Past her indelible work on stage and display screen, she was a civil rights activist who continues to encourage many people right this moment. Newly christened along with her title, the Lena Horne Theater will affirm that Black girls and women are seen; we’re heard, we BELONG and after we stand in her theatre, we are going to stand even taller on her mighty shoulders and her enduring legacy. That is really a historic day.”

This theater renaming is much like — and possibly even higher than — a lifetime achievement award. Horne obtained her fair proportion of these too. She obtained a Kennedy Heart Honor in 1984, a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 1989, and the Sammy Cahn lifetime achievement award from the Songwriters Corridor of Fame in 1994.

Horne could also be finest recognized to right this moment’s audiences for taking part in Glinda the Good Witch of the South within the 1978 movie adaptation of The Wiz, wherein she appeared with Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor and extra. Her stirring efficiency of “Consider in Your self” is without doubt one of the highlights of the movie and the Quincy Jones-produced soundtrack.

Horne’s greatest success arrived three years later. In Might 1981, on the age of 63, her one-woman present, Lena Horne: The Girl and Her Music, opened on Broadway on the Nederlander Theatre. It ran for 333 performances. In June 1981, she received a particular Tony for the efficiency. “I’m simply so completely satisfied that I’m getting all these flowers earlier than I lose my tooth,” she stated in her acceptance speech, which led right into a efficiency of “Consider in Your self.”

In February 1982 the double-disc album from that present received two Grammys – finest solid present album (which went to producer Jones) and finest pop vocal efficiency, feminine. Within the latter class, Horne beat smash hits by 4 of the most popular feminine artists of the period – Olivia Newton-John, Sheena Easton, Kim Carnes and Juice Newton.

In 1985, Horne obtained an Emmy nomination for the present, which aired on PBS’ Nice Performances. The present was nominated for excellent selection, music or comedy program.

Horne’s Broadway credit span almost 48 years, from Dance With Your Gods in 1934 to the aforementioned one-woman present, which ran by means of 1982.

Horne recorded “Stormy Climate” within the 1943 movie of the identical title. (Ethel Waters had launched the track 10 years earlier than.) Each recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Corridor of Fame.

In 1958, Horne obtained a Tony nomination for finest lead actress in a musical for Jamaica, wherein she starred with Ricardo Montalbán.

In 1959, Horne teamed with Harry Belafonte to file Porgy & Bess. The album rose to No. 13 on the Billboard 200, Horne’s highest rating on that chart, and introduced Horne her first Grammy nomination — finest vocal efficiency, feminine. The 2 stars reteamed for the 1971 ABC TV particular Harry and Lena which obtained an Emmy nomination for excellent single program – selection or musical.

In 1970, Horne teamed with Hungarian jazz guitar Gabor Szabo for an album Lena & Gabor, which cracked the Billboard 200. (A standout observe from the album, “Watch What Occurs,” bubbled beneath the Billboard Sizzling 100.) In 1974, she teamed with Tony Bennett for a Broadway present Tony & Lena Sing, which performed 37 performances.

Horne obtained eight Grammy nominations – divided equally between pop and jazz vocal performances. In 1995 she received a second Grammy — finest jazz vocal efficiency for her album An Night with Lena Horne.

Horne’s solely Sizzling 100 hit is a curiosity – “Now!,” a civil rights call-for-action set the tune of the Israeli people track “Hava Nagila” (!). The observe reached No. 92 in November 1963, three months after the March on Washington (which she attended). The lyrics are each pointed and intelligent. “The message of this track’s not delicate/No dialogue; no rebuttal/We wish greater than only a promise/Say goodbye to Uncle Thomas/Name me naïve/Nonetheless I imagine.”

Along with all of the awards she has received, others have named awards in Horne’s honor. The Soul Practice Girl of Soul Awards, which have been offered from 1995 to 2005, gave a Lena Horne Award for excellent profession achievement. In 2019, The City Corridor, a venerable midtown Manhattan venue, introduced the Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Influence. Solange Knowles was the primary recipient on Feb. 28, 2020 – simply days earlier than the pandemic shut down such gatherings.

The Brooks Atkinson Theatre, in-built 1926 and initially named the Mansfield Theatre, was renamed in 1960 upon Atkinson’s retirement as The New York Instances’ theater critic.

The Nederlander Group will host an occasion this fall for the renaming ceremony. An official date will likely be introduced within the coming weeks.

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