Thursday, May 25, 2017

Peggy Lee: "Music Is My Life's Breath."

Peggy Lee 1950.JPG
Peggy Lee in 1950

The American entertainer, Peggy Lee (1920-2002), always had a serious independent streak in both her life and career. While most singers chose to go loud she went rich, seductive, and stylish. Her method caught the eye and ear of bandleader Benny Goodman in 1941 and for the next five decades she wrapped songs in her personality, warmth, and intimacy for millions of fans. Here is the song that made her famous:

She not only sang songs but also wrote them. Here she is singing her biggest hit, Manana; words by Lee and music by Dave Barbour:

Lee had her last big hit in 1969 with Is That All There Is?. The songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote the song based on a story by Thomas Mann. Its perfect for Lee's treatment.

With that sophisticated style and renown singing, writing lyrics, composing, and acting, it's easy to see why Lee was always introduced to audiences as "Miss Peggy Lee." And it's no wonder that such an "in charge" personality could become the model for one of the most beloved characters in television history.  That the character is none other than a Muppet may surprise you. It is a story of caricature, humor, reverence, and unexpected fame. Read about it here in this brief Smithsonian Magazine interview. 

Lee was born on May 25, 1920 in Jamestown, North Dakota. Her recording still sell well fifteen years after her death and can be heard regularly on jazz and popular music stations and channels around the world. That's all there is.


Photos and Illustrations:
public domain publicity photo

Peggy Lee,

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