Lena Horne, 1917-2010

The legendary-a word used too frequently but never more appropriately than in this case-Lena Horne has passed away at the age of 92. Superlatives and distinctions aside (“first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio,” one the greatest interpreter of standards in the 20th century, etc.), she herself delivered perhaps the best epitaph, late in her life, which the Times wisely chooses to end her obituary: “My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.” She was indeed.