The success of Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, which opened at the Nederlander Theater on Broadway on May 12, 1981, and ran 333 performances, until June 30, 1982 (Horne's 65th birthday) was a cumulative one. Horne had been performing in nightclubs, theaters, and casinos for 40 years, singing many of the same songs she sang at the Nederlander, but somehow the Broadway context and her perseverance combined to make this more than a glorified club act. Horne had the benefit of being an artist who had faced adversity (particularly, the vicissitudes of being an African-American star in Hollywood in the 1940s) and, if not triumphed, at least persisted, so that, as she reached her golden age, her struggles within the entertainment business could be seen as heroic. And, she was still at it, which made her, in the nomenclature of the time, a "survivor." That earned her gales of applause from theatergoers who had made the journey with her and from new fans who were too young to remember her and were discovering her anew. The show made some attempt to at least trace the outlines of Horne's career from being a Cotton Club chorus girl in the 1930s to a movie star in the '40s. After a clutch of initial songs, an announcer made a Cotton Club announcement, and there was a short dramatic scene featuring several other performers who gave Horne a breather by doing a few numbers. Otherwise, she periodically interrupted the run of songs for personal reminiscences about her career as introductions to songs with which she was associated from her movie and previous Broadway musical appearances. The bulk of the show, however, was given over to her typically moving interpretations of classic songs by Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, and others. Among the new material, there was an emphasis on songs about endurance and self-reliance, in keeping with the overall theme, notably the Jim Croce hit "I Got a Name" and Paul Williams' "Life Goes On," both of which were turned into showstoppers. But then, the show was one showstopper after another, and a fitting capper to a great career.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2