Lena Horne, photographed as she sang by Philippe Halsmann in 1954. Ms. Horne was never a big fan of her own singing voice. In 1943, she told Newsweek magazine that she was still “learning to sing,” and she would later tell many interviewers how much she loved Aretha Franklin and wanted to sing like her. She told Ebony in 1968, “Now Aretha - she sings a song called “You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman,” and I suppose all the years that I disciplined myself to keep in control and not show my feelings, the way I many times resented an audience or the way I sometimes had been angered by something that had happened, I couldn’t express that feeling. But she is so free and feminine and warm and you know that she has put no barrier in front of her. She isn’t pleading or begging to the audience. She isn’t even denying them. She is pouring out this freedom. If they want it - there it is and just the look of people’s faces when they listen to her shows that she is sending out such warmth, she is sending out everything I think is best in a black woman: pride, warmth, the knowledge that at this young time in her life she is free in herself. She has made no compromises to hide what she was or to change it, or to put it in a stylized frame. She is just herself. She makes me glad I’m a woman. She makes me feel warmer toward people. And it’s very hard in this business to be feminine.” 

Photo: Magnum Photos.

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