Today is the day!
My ninth illustrated picture book, The Legendary Miss Lena Horne is out! Written by the award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford (whose book Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, just was just named a Caldecott Honor Book and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book yesterday!), it is published by Atheneum Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Currently on my desk is the book itself, along with a print of the first illustration I completed for it- and the only one in black and white- a still from Lena's 1943 film "Stormy Weather", the two CDs I listened to non-stop while illustrating the book, and my CD player. Yes, I am old school and still buy CDs. Every book needs a soundtrack... every art project needs a soundtrack, and I fell in love with the sound of Lena's voice during this one. I wish I could have seen her perform live!
This 48 page picture book is geared towards children aged 4-8, but is an interesting read for all ages. Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle to a family of teachers and activists in Bedford Stuyvesant, New York City on June 30, 1917....
|The couch Lena's mother is sitting on in this illustration was created from a collaged photo of my own great-grandmother's couch! I made it a bit more pink :)|
Lena's mother wanted her be an actress, but her grandmother believed that the entertainment business was "Not for respectable folks". She bounced back and forth between her mother's home, grandmother's home, boarding houses and other family members' homes. She auditioned to be a dancer at the Cotton Club during the Great Depression, where she met Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington, and honed her singing, dancing and acting skills in the years to follow.
She was absolutely magnetic on the screen. Take a look at her performance of "Stormy Weather", which sort of became her anthem throughout her difficult life...
I'll be playing my Lena Horne CD's and singing and dancing around the house today!
I hope you'll enjoy the book!