Tag Archives: Diva

No More Stormy Weather: Lena Horne 1917 – 2010

11 May

In an era where virtual nakedness, shimmer-tards (re: shimmery leotards…circa 2009 Fergie, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, J. Lo, and on and on and on), suggestive lyrics and “poppin, lockin & droppin,” are the order of the day in popular music, the loss of an entertainment pioneer comes as an especially hard blow for those of us who admire true and unique artistic expression with a touch of poise and class.

When I’d heard that the incomparable Lena Horne had passed away this past Sunday, I must admit I was more than a little sad.  Not only because the world had lost a woman who epitomized refinement and elegance in the face of an industry that refused for the longest time to acknowledge her talent and beauty simply because of the color of her skin, but because after such a rich and well-lived life, her departure has left one less trailblazer for the world’s current pop “tarts” to aspire to emulate.

I can clearly remember becoming an instant fan of Ms. Horne’s when I saw her on an old recording of Sesame Street singing a sultry bluesy “greensy” duet with Kermit the Frog.  When I was a little older, her serenade to a gushing Cliff Huxtable made me want to be a jazz singer.  Then, when I discovered “Cabin In The Sky” on Turner Classic Movies, I made up in my mind that I was going to forgo common sense, education and the wrath of my parental units to run away and become a renowned actress just like Lena.

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Lena Calhoun Horne was a legend, an icon, a fiery soul and a woman who broke barriers and silently created the “new” showbiz rules by which to play.  Recent media buzz, blogosphere chronicles, morning show highlights and radio tributes that pay homage to the diva speak to this.  Even the witty and politically astute Rachel Maddow took a break from “Right-Slaying” and dedicated a moment during her show Monday Night to extol the greatness of Lena Horne, classifying her (justly) as “irreplaceable”. 

I realize that it will be impossible for anyone to ever fill the shoes of Ms. Lena, but perhaps it’s not too late for “The Gyrators” of today to take a page from the book of Horne.

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The World’s Gone GaGa…Grace, Not So Much.

20 Apr

If I were as fierce, fit and Strangé as Grace Jones, then I’d probably be as unabashedly eccentric as the 61-year-old icon is and most certainly was in her prime as a model, singer, actress and all around foxy firebrand. 

While not what society would classify as a classic beauty, as a child I thought that Jones had a unique and uncharacteristically chiseled magnificence that made her scary, peculiar and extraordinary all at the same time.  That coupled with her flippant, do-what-I-please attitude, the mold was broken, busted and in total disrepair with the creation of this glossy, milk chocolate Diva Supreme (anyone who remembers her salacious “Pull Up to The Bumper” knows exactly what I mean).  I suppose this is why the Insanely Fabulous One has taken issue with her pop replica (if you let her tell it) as of late.

With a boldness that knows no bounds, Grace Jones recently revealed to a UK paper that she was approached to do a collaboration with the ever unconventional Lady Gaga, but in no uncertain terms declined the offer because to her way of thinking, the youngling stole her swagger.

“Yes, she did [ask about a duet], but I said no. I’d just prefer to work with someone who is more original and someone who is not copying me, actually. Well, you know, I’ve seen some things she’s worn that I’ve worn, and that does kind of piss me off. I wouldn’t go to see her.”

Admittedly, Gaga is definitely more strange than Strangé, but I think that Her Grace is missing the absurdly dressed point here.  It seems to me that although clearly inspired by Jones, Lady Gaga is paying homage to her idol in appearance, and evidently with the plan for a duet as well; she’s not out pilfering Grace Jones’ style (OMG, did I just defend Lady Gaga??).   

Any loony Lady Gaga fan can tell you that for as long as she’s been relevant popular, the star has cited Old Jonesy as her inspiration, even going so far as likening her to “Jesus” in an interview with Q magazine.  Now I’m not sure what cross Jones hung on for the remission of Gaga’s sins, but it’s evident to anyone whose every thought to nominated the pop tart for the show “What Not To Wear” that Lady Gaga is an ultimate Grace Jones stan. 

Embrace it Grace. Take her under your wing.  Become two peas in a glittery lace and lycra pod.  The reality is, you haven’t done a whole lot since Boomerang daaa’ling.  It’s either this, or with the impending repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, loaning your infamous gaydar to the military.

Beyonce Wears, Swears and Can Now Create a Mean Lacefront!

19 Apr

Some call it independence, others maturation, but no matter how you label it, the common denominator is that there has been a subtle but definite change in Beyonce Knowles over the past couple of years.  Although on occasion we can still hear her southern-twanged thanks to God for her (countless) award wins, long gone is the “Jesus Loves Me, Ooooh Yes He Does” songstress, and in her place a fiery and diva-esque woman has emerged.

This edgy diva reared her pretty little Boy George styled fedora donning head over the weekend when she joined her husband onstage to perform “Forever Young” at California’s Coachella Music Festival. But it wasn’t her surprise appearance or funky headwear and batty riders that shocked the audience though.  Fans were taken aback by Queen Bey’s lack of clean-cut pop appeal which she instead exchanged for a flirty hardcore look, with an obscenity laced tee-shirt.

I know that we can sometimes forget that stars are individuals, who oftentimes like to live their lives without the pressure of being a role model or the face of this-or-that, but I can’t help but to wonder if she thought about all the little girls who look up to her before she threw on her swear-word tinged top.  I’m guessing no, but let’s just hope that when she heads home to Houston and visits her home church, this isn’t her idea of mid-evening casual for Wednesday Night Bible Study.

In a little more flattering Mrs. Carter news, she and her designer mother Tina Knowles joined forces with Phoenix House (a non-profit substance abuse treatment center) last month for the grand opening of The Beyonce Cosmetology Center at the Phoenix House Career Academy in Brooklyn, NY. 

In 2008, After having met with many women at the facility while researching for the role of Etta James in the film Cadillac Records (who was at one time addicted to heroine), Beyonce left the experience inspired and wanting to help enrich the lives of the resilient women she met.  Donating her salary from the film, Bey and Tina came up with the idea and the funds for the cosmetology program.  The new center offers a seven-month cosmetology training course that will help Phoenix House clients to gain the career skills necessary to lead productive and rewarding lives.  Just think, before too long we will be seeing the summer ready, duo-toned, center parted, spiral curled Beyonce inspired coifs all over the city.  Yay! (Not so much).

Snarkiness aside, this is a VERY commendable initiative that Beyonce has adopted, and it does so much to prove that in her case, there are certainly two sides to every coin.

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