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Fabulous Friday, "Stormy Weather"

The next song in *Stardust Melodies* is "Stormy Weather," by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. The song is best known as the signature song of Lena Horne. Here's Miss Horne singing it in the 1943 movie:

And here she is doing it sometime around 1981 in her Broadway show *Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.* I recorded this show off PBS back in the day and I WORE that mama OUT. I was crazy for Miss Horne, and remain crazy for her. She performed "Stormy Weather" in the first half of the show, in the context of her movie career, and then she performed it again at the end of the show in a truly stunning manner. Her a cappella cadenza between the verse and the chorus, at 1:11, completely destroys me. And we get a little bonus - - we also get to hear her doing the song that closed the show, "If You Believe" from *The Wiz.*

Here's Elisabeth Welch in the 1979 Derek Jarman movie *The Tempest.* I'd never heard of Welch before, I only know about her because of *Stardust Melodies.* She had sung the song in London when it was new, in 1933. She's divine. The movie looks most peculiar (clearly the art director was working overtime), but who doesn't love a line of swaying sailors?

And one more, please - - Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, with Ivie Anderson. The Duke puts the tune to some luscious and unexpected harmonies in the instrumental opening. Miss Anderson has a lovely, straightforward voice, and of course I love the warm, resolutely American quality of her Rs. But why did the filmmaker feel like he had to take her out of the club in that fabulous gown and put her in a dingy little room with a plain dress and a freaking BROOM in the corner? Please.

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