On Friday night, singer-songwriter and multimedia artist Solange Knowles bought the first Lena Horne Prize for Artists Growing Social Impact, celebrating at Novel York Metropolis’s ancient Metropolis Hall theater and memorializing Horne, the trailblazing actress and activist. There to tag the occasion: Horne’s daughter, the author and activist Gail Lumet Buckley and granddaughter Jenny Lumet; Martin Luther King III; her mother Tina Knowles Lawson and a checklist of artists — at the side of Jon Batiste, Andra Day, Talib Kweli and Leon Bridges — who turned into the theater into a birthday party with their fiery performances. The group had been united in each and each the birthday party of Knowles and a sense of urgency for respecting and uplifting the voices of dim ladies, a field that drew warm applause at some stage within the night.
Buckley is aware of the vitality of legacy and the ancient significance of her mother, Horne, who passed away in 2010. It’s a legacy that she and the board of the Metropolis Hall, Novel York’s shut to hundred-year-extinct arts and activism organization, are fervent to preserve alive thru this unusual prize. “Right now, artists are likely to be no longer basically that in being activists,” she told TIME earlier within the week. “It’s all now about getting rich and effectively-known, and they don’t wish to give support on legend of they’re free, in a sense. My mother came up in a duration the build she used to be no longer free to be herself. She needed to be a ‘credit to her flee,’ quote unquote. She needed to be an activist; she had no different in it.”
It’s no longer honest family who comprise benefited from Horne’s long-lasting influence. “She used to be no longer unnerved of losing anything, on legend of she deeply believed there’s no longer justice for her if other fellow People don’t comprise freedom,” Grammy-winning African singer Angélique Kidjo told TIME of her admire for Horne. “She may possibly comprise honest had a elated existence, but she cared.” To that cease, the Lena Horne Prize is — particularly — the first valuable leisure award named after a woman of coloration, based fully on the organizers, and it honors “the intersection of arts and activism.”
That aggregate used to be made sure at some stage within the night, from Total‘s opening notes to Martin Luther King III’s emphasis that Solange “sings freedom songs for our time.” (Knowles’s most most up-to-date album, 2019’s resonant When I Uncover House, used to be a multidisciplinary like letter to her fatherland of Houston and meditation on dim womanhood.)
“Carrying the torch is figure we can all manufacture, especially adolescence. Your final title doesn’t ought to serene be King. You would possibly manufacture fair accurate legal now by the style, by voting,” King told the viewers. Kidjo, singer Alice Smith, rapper Rapsody and dance community Urban Bush Ladies additionally performed, and Andra Day sang a memorable rendition of Horne’s bear “Stormy Weather,” to a standing ovation.
Andra Day performs onstage at the Lena Horne Prize Match Honoring Solange Knowles Offered by Salesforce at the Metropolis Hall on February 28, 2020 in Novel York Metropolis.
The Metropolis Hall/Getty Photos
The allege jumbled collectively quite a lot of history, too, flashing support to Horne’s work. One of the most first dim actresses to salvage a tag in Hollywood, no subject going thru restrictions on the build her scenes had been allowed to air, Horne used to be a lifelong NAACP member, Grammy and Tony-winning film and stage performer and civil rights advocate. “She used to be the least bit times a symbol and an instance of something. Now she’s being hottest for what she gave up possibly, which used to be her bear freedom of expression,” Buckley told TIME.
However it used to be her granddaughter Jenny Lumet whose phrases humanized the icon most as she shared some private anecdotes accurate thru the night. “She had a whole drawer of unfounded eyelashes I concept had been spiders, and she drank her Hennessy from a Sesame Avenue mug,” she talked about. TV host Tamron Hall arrived onstage decked out in a coat and bracelet that had once belonged to Horne, bought at an property sale — a nod to Horne’s significance as a representative figure for younger ladies going into leisure. And in an especially important interlude, longtime labor rights activist Dolores Huerta reminded the group to pause active within the fight for social justice. “We all know there are many songs that also ought to serene be sung, many pieces of artwork that also ought to serene be rendered,” she talked about. “We are in a position to’t derive tired.”
And then Tina Knowles Lawson, mother of Beyoncé and Solange, told tales about Solange’s earliest moments of activism — like looking out to derive a “putrid teacher” fired by petition when she used to be in traditional school. “Solange has a inventive, stuffed with life soul,” she talked about. “She used to be born alongside with her mama’s fiery spirit, thanks very unparalleled.” Earlier on the crimson carpet, Knowles told TIME that her daughter has been blazing a hump for years. “She’s been the first African-American girl in quite a lot of museums and spaces that we weren’t welcome in sooner than. She’s knocked down these doors, and she’s easiest honest begun,” her mother talked about.
Buckley told TIME that the Metropolis Hall board — which comprises important figures like Harry Belafonte, Billy Porter, Judy Collins and Roxane Elated — unanimously voted for Knowles to be the inaugural Prize recipient; she’ll be sending her $100,000 award to Mission Row Homes, a nonprofit based fully in her fatherland of Houston.
Ifetayo Ali-Touchdown performs onstage at the Lena Horne Prize Match Honoring Solange Knowles Offered by Salesforce at the Metropolis Hall on February 28, 2020 in Novel York Metropolis.
The Metropolis Hall/Getty Photos
And so Knowles took the stage to portion her closing remarks at the cease of the night within the identical legendary position the build Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday and Leonard Cohen comprise shared their voices over time. Horne’s most iconic position used to be that of Glinda the Correct Witch in The Wiz; Knowles recalled taking half in that very identical position as a baby, and taking the song lyrics to coronary heart — namely for her When I Uncover House mission, released precisely three hundred and sixty five days within the past.
“When I danced within the film looking out to conjure up and crystallize the 2d, I attempted to channel the vitality of Ms. Horne, her phrases all spherical me: ‘Think that you just may possibly be in a position to procure a draw to scamper dwelling, imagine you may possibly be in a position to procure a draw to waft on air… In case you imagine, Oh, you then’ll be there,” she talked about. “With the echoes of these final traces, ‘Think in yourself like I imagine in you,’ I test with tiny 5 year extinct me… I impress it is no accident I stand in entrance of you tonight surrounded by the important legacy of Ms. Lena Horne persevering with to recordsdata me, and all of you gift in this room.”
Earlier, Rapsody — a Grammy-nominated rapper who sings basically relating to the journey of dim womanhood — told TIME about what it takes to face out as an artist-activist, and her advice to younger ladies seeking out to apply within the footsteps of figures like Horne and Knowles. “Don’t let any individual field you in and clarify your artwork. Regardless of account you’re looking out to allege, there’s anyone available who can drawl,” she talked about.
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Write to Raisa Bruner at [email protected].