Lena Horne once said “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s how you carry it.”
Singers Lena Horne, NinaSimone and Linda Theus-Lee all have different methods to carrying their respective loads but each are able to do so in extraordinary fashion. They are women of vision, who are able to effect change in the world by producing art that allows their audience to experience the life in new and profound ways. They coveted freedom as the most admirable quality one can possess and have made that clear through both their music and their lifestyles. They love and revere the color of their skin but are also able to see through the exterior into the deeper components of the human soul.
They have a keen awareness of the human condition which makes us all sosimilar, and allows us to connect on principals that ring true for every type of person and circumstance. Their gifts allow them to have a tremendous impact on people’s lives and they all have used their power to further empower those around them.
Linda Theus-Lee believes one of her greatest responsibilities given with her gifts is to empower those around her to become the greatest version of themselves. This belief is demonstrated in her upcoming performance of Lena, Nina and Me at the Clocktower Cabaret this month. And although there are clear differences between Horne,Simone and Theus-Lee, it is their commonalities that make this show so conceptually fascinating.
They all come from different generations as Horne was born in 1917, Simone was born in 1933 and Theus-Lee obviously is contemporary of the modern era, which gives them different context for their music and styles. Horne’s talents were multi-faceted as she was able to master dancing, acting and singing in her career as a show-woman. Simone however, was trained as a classical pianist and is known for her signature vocal sound. These-Lee is also awell learned artist and has extraordinary vocal abilities making her a great candidate to represent the music of both artists. Theus-Lee looks to channel the visions of both artist in order to give the public greater insight into how shockingly similar, but distinctly separated these women are. She will also contribute some of her original music to further illustrate the cohesion between their artistry.
“The stirring story that I will tell through song and narration, will reflect the richness of these 2 women’s lives and their struggles with segregation andfinding their voice through their artistry. It will be a glimpse of the music that they played, sung, lived and created. I feel so blessed to present their stories, as it has presented me with fresh ideas, a new paradigm of life, and musical transformation,” says Theus-Lee
The road to success has never been easy and no group of people can testify to that more convincingly than Black women in America. Horne,Simone and Theus-Lee were placed in boxes and told they were incapable of living their truths. They however fought through this oppression and came out even stronger on the other side. Theus-Lee believes strongly in the power of this lesson “I encourage everyone to educate themselves – and education comes in many different forms,” she says who received her masters from the University of Colorado Denver and has used her education as a means to further develop her identity as an individual and a musician. “Education creates an empowerment that allows people to feel they have greater agency and competence, especially when fighting against oppression,” says Theus-Lee.
These three women had the confidence and ability to stand up for their people and speak truth directly to power. Despite the best effort of those trying to silenceher Nina Simone performed songs like “Young, Gifted and Black,” and spoke on the conditions African Americans faced in Mississippi and elsewhere in the country. Lena Hone was also a staunch advocate for civil rights in her day, and only became more prolific as she aged. Artists have always had a special place in the Black community as they are able to get messages out so poignantly and effectively through music.
One of the things that allow Theus-Lee to keep up the good fight of perfecting her craft and thus affecting the world is putting God first. “This is the foremost step in crafting yourself into what you’re capable of becoming. We always must work to improve ourselves and embrace our lives as a journey where we must continue to cultivate our strengths and not become overwhelmed by our weaknesses,” she says. She believes that we must learn to ‘value and love ourselves’ noting that we have so much potential once we begin to realize our own self-worth. “Without being able to identify our own worth, we place people with the impossible tasks of defining that for us,” she says.
Editor’s note: “Lena, Nina & Me” will be performed on March 12 at the Clocktower Cabaret (in downtown) on the corner of 16th and Arapahoe. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information, visit www.LindaTheus Lee.com.