Horne passed away at a New York hospital on Sunday (09May10) at the age of 92.
The veteran star shot to fame in 1943 when she starred in movie musical Stormy Weather and the title track became her signature song.
During her lengthy career, she won a string of Grammy Awards and was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also became a key voice for the civil rights movement in the U.S. and was one of Hollywood’s first black pin-ups.
And President Obama has paid his respects to Horne in a statement issued on behalf of the U.S. leader and his wife Michelle.
In the press release, he says, “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen.
“From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home.
“Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena, and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.”