Hundreds bid farewell to Lena Horne
Published 17/05/2010 | 14:59
Lena Horne, whose signature song was Stormy Weather, was remembered at her funeral as a shy girl from Brooklyn who fought racism for decades to emerge as a world-class singer and social activist.
"She was so many ideas existing all at the same time in the same space and they were all conflicting and they were all true," her granddaughter, screenwriter Jenny Lumet, told hundreds of mourners at the Church of St Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.
They included fellow entertainers Chita Rivera, Diahann Carroll, Dionne Warwick, Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams.
"I've tried to sum her up and I can't sum her up," said Ms Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet. "To sum something up means it's over - and I think that she's not over and that she's quite infinite."
Lena, who died aged 92, was one of the first black performers hired to sing with Charlie Barnet's white orchestra in the early 1940s, playing the Copacabana nightclub in New York City.
Lena's funeral was held in the Upper East Side church where she brought her family each Easter for years.
The former pastor, the Rev Walter Modrys, recalled in his eulogy how shy the seemingly bold performer really was in private. But on stage she shifted into her "performance mode", he said.
Ms Lumet recalled being "a small child loved by this woman".
"Her beauty was so deep you could swim in it," with hands "like orchids or lilies" that were graced by "all these gold bracelets so she'd jingle like a cat when she walked, so if I was in her stuff, you always knew if she was coming 'cause of all her ... her bling!".