Groundbreaking Lena Horne Dead at 92

'Stormy Weather' great broke ground for African Americans
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2010 5:44 AM CDT

(Newser) – Lena Horne, the legendary singer who broke new ground for African-Americans in Hollywood, has died at the age of 92. Best known for the song "Stormy Weather," the jazz vocalist won accolades as a cabaret and Broadway performer. Horne got her start in 1933 as a teenage chorus girl at the legendary Cotton Club in Harlem; she was such a sensation that she later became the first African-American signed to long-term Hollywood contract, the LA Times reports.

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Refusing to play the maid and other stereotypical roles commonly available to black women at the time, Horne appeared in Hollywood movies of the '40s mostly in nonspeaking roles as a singer. She became active in the civil rights movement in the '60s, and performed on Broadway into the '80s. "My life has been about surviving," Horne once said. "Along the way I also became an artist. It's been an interesting journey. One in which music became first my refuge and then my salvation." (Read more Lena Horne stories.)

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