An Extraordinary Performance and a Gala Celebration of Lena Horne’s 90th Birthday
Chris Calloway is heir to an American musical legacy. For 20 years she performed with her father, the legendary Cab Calloway, and his Hi De Ho Orchestra, across the United States and around the world. Chris and Cab- extraordinary entertainers- singers- actors- showmen; their musical repertoire derived from the era of The Great American Songbook-Gershwin, Porter, Rogers, Berlin, Arlen… the greatest American tunes… big swing bands… and uptown Harlem at the Cotton Club!
There were Broadway nights: Chris appeared in the “all black” production of “Hello Dolly” starring Pearl Bailey- and Hollywood days of movie and television appearances.
Chris moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in the 1980s and has delighted audiences with her cabaret performances and one-woman theater performances for nearly two decades. She was officially deemed ‘Santa Fe’s Reigning Diva of the Night’.
In 1999 Chris put together her father’s last Hi De Ho Orchestra – which became the brilliant centerpiece of the New York City JVC Jazz Festival. From there Chris and the band went on a 55 city tour called “Cab Calloway’s Legend of Swing.”
In the spring of 2001, the Santa Fe Stages International Theater Festival produced Chris’ one-woman show, “Clouds of Joy” – which she wrote and starred in- about her aunt, Blanche Calloway.
After the big band tour, Chris had a recurrence of her 1987 diagnosis of breast cancer. She now works closely with the New Mexico Cancer Institute and the Susan B. Korman Breast Cancer Foundation in Richmond, VA. “I am a new breed of Cancer patients; people who are LIVING with Cancer,” Chris proclaims. “It is a profound blessing and a miracle of modern science and technology. I am grateful and humbled.”
The Calloway Legacy:
Blanche Calloway (1902-1978): Older sister of Cab Calloway, Blanche was a popular singer and bandleader. During the 1920s she starred in several African American Revues, recorded with Louis Armstrong and was the first black woman to front an all-male band, Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys.
Cab Calloway (1907-1994): was a legendary fireball of talent who’s infectious “Hi-De-Ho’s,” scatting and jiving – in a rich and vibrant baritone voice became the spirited cry of people wanting to be happy.
Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music
Lena Horne was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 30, 1917. She took her first steps into show business at age 16 as a dancer in the chorus line at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club. There she met such renowned artists as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Ethel Waters and Billie Holiday.
After a brief marriage, at age 19, to Louis Jones, during which she lived in Pittsburgh and had two children, Gail and Teddy, Horne returned to New York and jazz and the Big Band Sounds. She began singing with Noble Sissle’s Society Orchestra, honing her distinctive vocalizing style and elegant manner. It was while she was singing in New York, that an MGM talent scout caught her act and arranged a screen test which landed her a contract at the studio.
Lena Horne starred in two memorable black musicals: “Cabin in the Sky” and “Stormy Weather” The studio sent her on a tour of its theaters to promote the films in song. As a result, she became one of the top nightclub and theater box office attractions in the country.
On Broadway, Ms. Horne appeared in “Blackbirds of 1939” and scored a major triumph in Harold Arlen’s “Jamaica.” Lena Horne received a special Tony Award in 1981 for distinguished achievement in the theater for her one-woman show “Lena Horne: the Lady and Her Music” which opened to rave reviews and played to capacity audiences for 14 months before going on tour.
Ms. Horne has also found time to devote to the causes in which she truly believes, starting with the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Her paternal grandmother enrolled Lena in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People when she was two, and she was worked with that group as well as the National Council of Negro Women, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the Urban League.
One of the achievements about which she is most proud is an honorary doctorate she received from Howard University in 1980. “I had been offered doctorates earlier,” she said, “and had turned them down because I hadn’t gone to college. But by the time Howard presented the doctorate to me, I knew I had graduated from the school of life and was ready to accept it.”
The Calloway-Lena Horne Connection:
The story goes that Cab Calloway pulled Lena Horne out of the chorus at the Cotton Club, put her in front of a microphone and said “sing.” The rest, pardon the old cliché, is show business history.
In 1945, Cab Calloway and his orchestra went on a cross-country tour. Cab’s wife, Nuffie, joined her husband for the tour. She became pregnant but continued on the winding east-west road. When the Calloway’s reached Los Angeles, they visited with Lena Horne. Lena took one look at Nuffie’s big belly and told her to go no further. So Cab went back on the road and Nuffie stayed with Lena. A few weeks later, Chris Calloway was born in Los Angeles, and Lena Horne became her godmother.
Stars Never Fade Productions will travel to your city for exciting live performances.
For more information, please contact us at