Supremes singer helps tell Lena Horne’s life story
Mary Wilson of the Supremes will sing some of Lena Horne's songs in "Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project" at the College of Lake County.
‘Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project’
8 p.m. Nov. 17
Wentz Concert Hall, North Central College, 171 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville
(630) 637-7469; northcentralcollege.edu/showtix
Updated: November 8, 2012 8:59AM
If you know all there is to know about the great Lena Horne, or if you couldn’t pick her out of a lineup, a new show aims to teach everyone something about the dazzling singer.
North Central College presents “Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project” on Nov. 17. It stars Mary Wilson of The Supremes in a multi-media tribute performance.
Horne biographer James Gavin serves as narrator of the show, which is based on his award-winning book and combines story, song and images from Gavin’s wealth of material.
The story covers Horne from her Cotton Club glory days and the backlots of Hollywood studios to the glitzy but bigoted resorts of Las Vegas.
The songs were arranged by Emmy-winning composer Mike Renzi — who was Horne’s musical director — and Larry Dunlap, musical director for this production.
Songs in this concert include “Stormy Weather,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” and “Yesterday When I Was Young.”
“(Gavin) wrote the book and had this idea of bringing it to life,” Wilson said. “He and I ran into each other and I told him I had been a long admirer of Mrs. Horne, and he said ‘I’m putting together this show and would love to have you in it.’ And that’s exactly what we did.
“He narrates this book and between narrations I come out and sing some of her most famous her songs,” she said. “He has film clips where he shows films throughout her life. It’s a live documentary with music.”
Wilson said that Horne’s music was a soundtrack to her childhood.
“She was one of the first black women who became a major movie star,” she said. “She was always in our household.”
Wilson said the show represents a time in history, specifically the Civil Rights movement era.
“People will comment that they didn’t know Lena was so involved with Civil Rights,” Wilson said. “They are happy to learn a lot of the particulars that were going on at the time, and how entertainers were involved in the political arena, just by the mere fact that they were black.”
It’s about history, she said, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at Horne, whose involvement in politics gave the mysterious woman depth people weren’t aware of, Wilson said.
“It’s an inside look at not just the glamorous persona that she had onstage, but what was going on with her as a human being, as a woman and as a mother,” she said.~.