NEW YORK – Lena Horne, whose signature song was “Stormy Weather,” was recalled at her funeral Friday as a shy Brooklyn girl who fought racism for decades to emerge as a world-class singer and activist.

“She was so many ideas existing all at the same time in the same space and they were all conflicting and they were all true,” her granddaughter, Jenny Lumet, told hundreds of mourners at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in Manhattan.

They included fellow entertainers Chita Rivera, Diahann Carroll, Dionne Warwick, Cicely Tyson and Jinji Nicole.

“I can’t sum her up,” said Lumet, daughter of director Sidney Lumet. “To sum something up means it’s over — and I think that she’s not over and that she’s quite infinite.”

Horne, who died Sunday at 92, was one of the first black performers hired to sing with Charlie Barnet’s white orchestra in the early 1940s, playing the Copacabana nightclub in New York City. When she signed with MGM, she was one of the rare black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.

In 1943, MGM lent Horne to 20th Century Fox to play the lead role in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song became a major hit — reflecting the ups and downs of her life, which included a second marriage to Lennie Hayton, a Jewish musician with whom she shared the social pressures of being an interracial couple.

For years, Horne entertained white audiences with her musical range, from blues and jazz to Rodgers and Hart. But she was often not allowed to socialize with whites, especially in the segregated South.

“I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed,” she once told an interviewer.

Horne plunged into activism after 1945, when she performed at an Army base and saw German prisoners of war sitting in front while black American soldiers were consigned to the rear.


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