Dionne Warwick is looking back at her successful career and can credit her success to mentor Lena Horne.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight alongside Horne’s granddaughter Jenny Lumet, the “Heartbreaker” singer reflected on the woman who helped shape her career.
“Lena Horne was one of my major mentors,” said Warwick, 80. “I called her Mama, she called me daughter. She was one of the many mentors that I had, but she was one of the very special ones to me. Because of the way she treated me.”
“The one thing I never forgot and never will forget, and have passed it on to my children and my grandchildren, is what she told me many, many years ago, and that was, ‘Be who you be. You cannot be anyone other than that,'” she recalled. “That’s something I never forgot, and anybody that knows me knows that Dionne is always Dionne.”
While Warwick, a five-time Grammy winner, is hailed as a trailblazer herself, she defers the title because she says Horne was the one who helped pave the way for many artists — including her.
“She gave me and everybody that looks like me something to look forward to…. it was a legacy that literally she passed on. She passed it on to me, she passed it on to every little Black girl that had any aspirations of doing anything at all,” she noted.
“She’s a trailblazer. A pioneer,” gushed Warwick. “It was her whole essence… Just magic.”
Horne, who passed in 2010 at age 92, was the first Black woman to sign a contract with a major Hollywood studio, MGM. She also is the first African American to be nominated for a Tony Award.
Horne’s legacy is being preserved by Lumet, who is turning her life story into a television series.
By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.