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Happy Birthday, Lena Horne

The great Lena Horne would have turned 98 years old today.

Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a section of Brooklyn, NY, on June 30th 1917. She performed at the Cotton Club in Harlem by the age of 16. She had substantial parts in the movies “Cable in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather.” Horne’s profile is fascinating. She was an activist, actress and nightclub star for more than seven decades. It definitely is worth reading.

Her heritage was European, Native American and African-American and, surprisingly, is said to have descended from the family of John C. Calhoun. The irony can be seen in this sentence from Calhoun’s profile:

John Caldwell Calhoun (March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was an American politician, political theorist during the first half of the 19th century, and a symbol of the legacy of slavery for generations.

Horne performs the title track from “Stormy Weather” above.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.