She has admired many a pop or jazz singer, but I ask who really did it for her: Ella, Sarah, Peggy? “Lena,” she says — her fellow Horne. “Oh, my God. Did you ever hear her one-woman show on Broadway?” (I’m afraid I did not.) “Oh, my God, that was one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard.” She also remembers a concert Lena did with Harry Belafonte in Las Vegas. “It was one of the greatest evenings I have ever spent: two consummate artists. I have memories of that like I do of hearing Joan Sutherland for the first time.”
I ask, “Were you and Lena ever confused for each other?” Oh, yes. “One of my closest friends went to a recital of mine, and the woman sitting behind her said, ‘But I thought we were going to hear Lena Horne!’” (I’m sure the lady got a hard-to-forget recital.)
Marilyn Horne and Lena Horne became good friends — and Lena would tell her, “We’re sistahs under the skin.” This leads me to tell her about Rachel Noerdlinger, who is press secretary to Al Sharpton. She calls me Brother Jay, and I call her Sister Rachel.
Rachel has an “e” in her last name that I do not. Marilyn Horne’s father added an “e” to their name — it was Horn. And “that little ‘e,’” says Marilyn, “gave me a bond with Lena.”