Back to Studio 54 – The house lights dimmed and a spot picked out a man in the audience dressed in a black leather jacket and boots. The spot followed him as he went on stage, turned around and sat on a stool. It was Bono, he sang a cappella in that unique husky voice of his. The song was “Amazing Grace.”
I honestly worshipped Lena the entertainer (and the activist) and like so many others I saw her one-woman show countless times. I was such a groupie that I bought two of her costumes from that show at the "Lighthouse's Annual Vintage Sale." As I was reading her full page obituary in The New York Times I noticed that in one of the pictures she was wearing "my" kimono. I went into the stuffed closet of clothes I'll wear when I lose a few hundred extra pounds - and took out the purple shiny kimono and spread it on my bed – it still had the red tag "Donated by Lena Horne - $200."
In the 1960's her beautiful and gifted daughter Gail married our good friend, the brilliant director Sidney Lumet. I've remained very close to Gail and their daughters Amy and Jenny.
Now – are you following? Are there too many names and cross relationships? – I can't help it – it's the way it is.
Another connection. In 1963 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement Lena did a concert at Carnegie Hall in which she sang a new song – a Civil Rights anthem called "Now." The music, based on a Jewish folk song "Hava Nagila," was by Jule Styne, the lyrics by hubs Adolph and Betty Comden. Lena sent her proceeds to the Gandhi Society for Human Rights.
Back to St. Ignatius Loyola - the funeral:
The amazing Audra McDonald walks onto the altar and in her perfect voice sings – wait for it – "Amazing Grace."
So much talent, so much beauty, so many memories of then – so much happening now – let's think about them all and revere them.
Lennie Hayton, Lena Horne, Adolph Green