This living, breathing biography of Lena Horne combines story, song and images to provide a defining portrait of an American music icon. The legendary Mary Wilson of The Supremes performs Horne’s greatest hits with a jazz trio while Horne biographer James Gavin provides rare audio and video footage from the courageous singer’s life.
Stormy Weather, the “living, breathing, biography” of Lena Horne, combines story, song and images to give us a defining portrait of a groundbreaking entertainer. The show features Mary Wilson of the Supremes performing, with a jazz trio, Lena’s music while biographer James Gavin brings us rare audio and video footage from the courageous, controversial singer’s life. A thrilling entertainer and a valiant crusader for justice, Lena Horne’s life and music still serve as standards for passion and commitment.
Ms. Wilson is best known for being a founding member of the world’s most famous female trio, The Supremes, who recorded 12 No.1 hits between 1964 and 1969. Mary Wilson’s singer’s career did not stop there, and she continues to soar.
Ms. Wilson is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, businesswoman, former U.S. Cultural Ambassador, the recipient of a college degree from New York University (2001) and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. In 2007, Ms. Wilson was named international spokeswoman for the Humpty Dumpty Institute, a platform she uses to condemn the death and destruction caused by hidden landmines and unexploded ordinances in less developed countries.
Ms. Wilson’s “Dare to Dream” lecture, which she gives to young people, emphasizes the need for personal perseverance to achieve their goals, despite obstacles and adversities in their lives. The topic is the foundation of her best-selling autobiography “Dreamgirl - My Life as a Supreme.” Ms. Wilson later authored its sequel, “Supreme Faith - Someday We’ll Be Together.” In 2000, these two books, along with updated chapters, were combined to complete her third book. She is currently working on a fourth book, which will be a coffee table hardcover featuring the gowns, history and legacy of the Supremes.
Moreover, she has spread the Supremes’ legacy on the world stage to international museums with a touring exhibit entitled, “The Story of the Supremes from the Mary Wilson Gown Collection,” featuring their show-stopping gowns and coveted memorabilia. The gowns were on exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and will be touring The United Kingdom before going on to Europe for another two years.
Over the years, Ms. Wilson has been highly recognized as the consummate humanitarian. She continues to devote her time and talent to assisting a diverse group of non-profit organizations, including the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, The Po Leung Kuk schools of Hong Kung, UNICEF, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Figure Skaters of Harlem, a youth organization committed to helping children realize their dreams o compete in the Olympics. She has been active with Child Research, supporting a child around the world for the past 20 years.
In 1988, Mary Wilson accepted the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Supremes when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1994, the Supremes received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 1998, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
In 2003, the National Foundation for Women Legislators bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award on Ms. Wilson and invited her to a delegation of women legislators who traveled to Bahrain. She participated in a Trade and Civil Life Conference hosted by the Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain and is proud to have played a role in helping pass the Freedom Trade Bill between the U.S. and Bahrain. At the 37th Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference in 2007, she received the Floyd Washington Auto Safety Advocacy Award for her commitment to auto safety.
Ms. Wilson has toured the globe as a performer and continues to travel as advocate on behalf of social and civic issues. As a Supreme, she performed for Britain’s Queen Mother and the future King of Sweden and other international audiences. However, Ms. Wilson’s global stature grew after former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell named her one of nine cultural ambassadors in 2003.
As an official “goodwill” ambassador, Ms. Wilson visited poverty-stricken areas in Bangladesh, where she witnessed children as young as five years old having to break bricks to earn money for their families. In Pakistan, she spoke at Fatima Jinnah Woman University about pursuing their goals and “Daring to Dream.” In Mozambique and Botswana, Ms. Wilson addressed young people about the dangers of HIV and AIDS and her quest for world peace.
In November 2004, she was one of the featured performers to headline the United Nations’ “World AIDS Day” concert at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. She later returned to the United Nations Building to lecture about the poverty, hunger and destruction she witnessed during her trips.
Mary Wilson is pleased to join James Gavin to pay tribute to an outstanding American icon, Lena Horne.
Author and journalist James Gavin’s third book, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2009) was called "magnificent ... gripping, marvelously written" by Liz Smith, who added: "[It] may just be one of the best biographies about show business, race, love, sex, and music ever written." In the New York Times Book Review, John Simon called "page after page" of Stormy Weather "eventful and suspenseful." On May 12, 2010 at Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, 8th District Councilman Bernard C. Parks honored Gavin with a proclamation from the city.
Gavin's previous book, Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker (Knopf, 2002; new 2012 edition published by Chicago Review Press), was called “a landmark in entertainment biography” in the Hollywood Reporter and “almost unbearably vivid” in the New York Times. Deep in a Dream has been published in England, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain, France, and Brazil as well as in the U.S. Gavin’s first book, Intimate Nights: The Golden Age of New York Cabaret (Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), was republished by Back Stage Books (2006) in a revised, updated edition. It won ASCAP’s Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism, along with raves from John S. Wilson of the New York Times (“vividly reported … etched in acid”), Liz Smith (“a treasure trove … a real beat of the heart of New York”), and Gerald Nachman of the San Francisco Chronicle (“wild and wistful … a remarkably informed, insightful, definitive look at Manhattan nightlife”).
The long-awaited Intimate Nights documentary is now being co-produced by Gavin and filmmaker Raymond De Felitta; it will feature Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, Dick Cavett, Dixie Carter, Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Kaye Ballard, Bruce Vilanch, and dozens more illustrious cabaret alumni.
Manhattan-born and a graduate of Fordham University, Gavin is a much-published freelance journalist. Aside from his dozens of features in the New York Times, he has written for Vanity Fair, Time Out New York, the Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post on subjects ranging from Annie Lennox to Elizabeth Taylor to the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. He has contributed liner notes to over 400 CDs, including many reissues he produced himself for Verve, Blue Note, and Koch Jazz. His essay for the GRP box set Ella Fitzgerald – The Legendary Decca Recordings earned a 1996 Grammy nomination.
Gavin also lectures, and has appeared in several documentaries, including the E! True Hollywood Story on Doris Day and Anita O'Day: The Life and Times of a Jazz Singer. He wrote and narrated a French TV documentary, Chet by Claxton, on legendary photographer William Claxton and his muse, Chet Baker. Gavin has made over two hundred radio appearances, including multiple interviews with NPR, the BBC, and Australia's ABC Network; and has been seen on the Today show, Good Morning America, and the PBS NewsHour. He has created and hosted shows based on all his books, featuring such artists as Blossom Dearie, Julie Wilson, Nellie McKay, Mark Murphy, Andy Bey, Oscar Brown, Jr., Jackie & Roy, and Kiki & Herb. These shows have been seen at such venues as the Algonquin Hotel and Joe's Pub in New York, the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, and Jazz Alley in Washington, D.C.
James tours with two shows based on his books. In addition to Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project, Jim's second book also inspired the creation of a show. Deep In a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker stars Spider Saloff, who was seen performing her one-woman show in Melbourne last June. James Gavin and his shows are exclusively represented by KMP Artists. Larry Dunlap (Musical Director) is an extraordinary pianist and arranger, a player with taste and sophistication. He has been praised as a "remarkable and versatile accompanist" and "one of the best jazz pianists around -- anywhere" in the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle. Besides his ongoing career, Larry has served since 1983 as pianist for the British diva Dame Cleo Laine and has performed an/or recorded with such luminaries as Mark Murphy, Joe Williams and Sheila Jordan as well as jazz instrumentalists Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, and Marc Johnson. Mr. Dunlap joins STORMY WEATHER as the musical director, pianist and conductor of the Larry Dunlap Trio on the fall 2011 tour.
Christopher Colangelo (drums) and Kendall Kay (bass) are known for working with some of the top musicians in the world and are thrilled to join the Larry Dunlap trop as part of Stormy Weather.
Carl Andress (Artistic Consultant) Credits include: Kander, Ebb and McNally's The Visit starring Chita Rivera and John Cullum (Ambassador Theater); Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo’s A Wonderful Life (Shubert Theater – named TIME Magazine's Best in Theater); Carried Away: Being Comden & Green (92nd St. Y Lyrics & Lyricists); Charles Busch & Julie Halston: Together on Broadway (Music Box Theater); Broadway for Medicine (NY City Center); True Colors Starring Cyndi Lauper and Barbara Cook (Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center); The Town of Palm Beach Centennial Celebration; Literacy Partners Annual Gala (NY State Theater). Also for the theater: The Divine Sister (Soho Playhouse); Die! Mommie Die! (New World Stages); Judith of Bethulia (Theater for the New City); Queen Amarantha (WPA Theater); Times Square Angel (Theater for the New City); The Third Story starring Kathleen Turner (La Jolla Playhouse, MCC Theater); The Cartells (Drama Dept.); Shanghai Moon (Drama Dept., Bay Street Theater, Theater for the New City); The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife (Paper Mill Playhouse; Coconut Grove Playhouse; Royal Poinciana Playhouse); Crush the Infamous Thing (Coconut Grove Playhouse); Rum & Coke (Abingdon Theater Co.); Bunnicula (TheaterWorks USA); Harold & Maude, I Love My Wife and The Mad Show (York Theater Company).
George Boyd III (Production Stage Manager) graduated from Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas (where he also taught and directed FIDDLER ON THE ROOF); and taught at Trinity Valley College in Athens, Texas. He Staged LILY TOMLIN in “APPEARING NITELY” on Broadway and co-directed the HBO version, developed and directed the original four productions of AS IS and was Associate Director of the Broadway production, and co-wrote and directed THE WONDERFUL WORDS OF SAMMY CAHN, which ran on QE2 for a year 1/2.
On Broadway, he stage managed BETTE MIDLER’S “CLAMS ON THE HALF SHELL,” Carol Channing in LORELEI, and Rex Harrison in Pirandello’s ENRICO IV. Off-Broadway at the Cherry Lane Theatre he co-wrote and directed Tom Taylor in WOODY GUTHRIE: HIS LIFE, TIMES AND MUSIC (which also played the Dallas Theater Center). He directed a “Home Movie” for Saturday Night Live, the English-language premiere of Feydeau’s 13 RUE DE L’AMOUR starring Tom Poston and Rosemary Prinz, 1776 starring Robert Conrad and A CHORUS LINE featuring the Joffrey Ballet’s Gary Chryst. He directed the American contingent at the First International Festival of the Arts in China—1989 (and when the police canceled their sold-out performances in Beijing, he proudly demonstrated with the students in Tiananmen Square). For television he has been Assistant Director of LILY: SOLD OUT, THE GEORGE CARLIN SHOW, THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, several Tony Award Shows, and RODNEY. He was Production Stage Manager of Disney’s LA BELLA Y LA BESTIA in Mexico City, en espanol. Most recently, in Waco, directed LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and THE LARAMIE PROJECT: 10 YEARS LATER.
George is thrilled to be working with KMP Management again with two of their touring productions including Rex Reed's THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY and James Gavin's STORMY WEATHER starring MARY WILSON.