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Lena Horne: 'Believe in yourself as I believe in you'

May 10, 2010 |  8:59 am

"Sometimes you have to wait 50 years … sometimes it comes in a year," Lena Horne said about success as she accepted a special Tony Award in 1981. "I'm just so happy that I'm getting all these flowers before I lose my teeth."

Lena Horne

Then Lena Horne belted out a roof-rattling rendition of her anthem from "The Wiz" -- "If You Believe" -- that was part of her Broadway smash hit "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music" that ran at the Nederlander Theatre from May 1981 to June 30, 1982, then toured.

When "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music" appeared on TV as part of the PBS series "Great Performances," it was nominated for best variety program at the Emmys, losing to "Motown Returns to the Apollo."

At the Grammys, the recording of "The Lady and Her Music: Live on Broadway" won two prizes, including best cast show album and best female pop vocal performance. Fourteen years later she won another Grammy -- for best jazz vocal performance ("An Evening with Lena Horne"). She also won Grammy's lifetime achievement award.

Below, her appearance at the 1981 Tonys. She died Sunday at age 92.

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Photo credit: Qwest Records