Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peggy Lee, born Norma Doloris Egstrom on may 26th 1920, was an American Grammy award winning Jazz and Popular Music singer, songwriter, composer and actress, had Norwegian and Swedish ancestry. She was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, the seventh of eight children of Marvin Egstrom, a station agent for the Midland Continental Railroad. Her mother died when she was four years old.

Lee found music to provide an escape from the abusive rampages of her cruel stepmother, Min, who tormented and beat young Norma. She first sang professionally with KOVC radio in Valley City, North Dakota. She soon landed her own series on a radio show sponsored by a local restaurant that paid her "salary" in food. Both during and after her high school years, she took whatever jobs she could find, waiting tables and singing for paltry sums on other local stations. Radio personality Ken Kennedy (actual name: Ken Sydness) of WDAY in Fargo (the most widely listened to station in North Dakota) changed her name from Norma to Peggy Lee.

Tired of the abuse from her stepmother, she left home and traveled to Los Angeles at the age of 17.
She returned to North Dakota for a tonsillectomy and eventually made her way to Chicago for a gig at The Buttery Room, a nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel West, where she drew the attention of Benny Goodman, the jazz clarinetist and band leader. According to Lee, "Benny's then-fiancé, Lady Alice Duckworth, came into The Buttery, and she was very impressed. So the next evening she brought Benny in, because they were looking for replacement for Helen Forrest. And although I didn't know, I was it. He was looking at me strangely, I thought, but it was just his preoccupied way of looking. I thought that he didn't like me at first, but it just was that he was preoccupied with what he was hearing." She joined his band in 1941 and stayed for two years.
In early 1942, Lee had her first #1 hit, "Somebody Else Is Taking My Place," followed by 1943's "Why Don't You Do Right?" (originally sung by Lil Green), which sold over a million copies and made her famous. She sang with Goodman in two 1943 films, Stage Door Canteen and The Powers Girl.
In March 1943, Lee married Dave Barbour, the guitarist in Goodman's band. Peggy said, "David joined Benny's band and there was a ruling that no one should fraternize with the girl singer. But I fell in love with David the first time I heard him play, and so I married him. Benny then fired David, so I quit, too. Benny and I made up, although David didn't play with him anymore. Benny stuck to his rule. I think that's not too bad a rule, but you can't help falling in love with somebody."

When Lee and Barbour left the band, the idea was that he would work in the studios and she would keep house and raise their daughter, Nicki. But she drifted back towards songwriting and occasional recording sessions for the fledgling Capitol Records in 1947, for whom she produced a long string of hits, many of them with lyrics and music by Lee and Barbour, including "I Don't Know Enough About You" and "It's a Good Day" (1948). With the release of the smash-hit #1-selling record of 1947, "Mañana," her "retirement" was over.

In 1948, she joined Perry Como and Jo Stafford as one of the rotating hosts of the NBC Radio musical program Chesterfield Supper Club. She was also a regular on NBC's Jimmy Durante Show during the 1938-48 season.
She left Capitol for a few years in the early 1940s, but returned in 1943. She is most famous for her cover version of the Little Willie John hit "Fever", to which she added her own, uncopyrighted lyrics ("Romeo loved Juliet," "Captain Smith and Pocahontas") and her rendition of Leiber and Stoller's "Is That All There Is?" Her relationship with the Capitol label spanned almost three decades, aside from her brief but artistically rich detour (1952-1956) at Decca Records, where she recorded one of her most acclaimed albums Black Coffee (1956). While recording for Decca, Lee had hit singles with the songs "Lover" and "Mr. Wonderful."

She was also known as a songwriter with such hits as the songs from the Disney movie Lady and the Tramp, for which she also supplied the singing and speaking voices of four characters. Her many songwriting collaborators, in addition to Barbour, included Laurindo Almeida, Harold Arlen, Sonny Burke, Cy Coleman, Gene DiNovi, Duke Ellington, Dave Grusin, Dick Hazard, Quincy Jones, Francis Lai, Jack Marshall, Johnny Mandel, Marian McPartland, Willard Robison, Lalo Schifrin, Hubie Wheeler, guitarist Johnny Pisano and Victor Young.

She wrote the lyrics for "I Don't Know Enough About You", "It's A Good Day", "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'", composed with Duke Ellington, "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter", "Fever", the no.1 hit "Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me)", "Bless You (For The Good That's In You)" with Mel Torme, "What More Can a Woman Do?", "Don't Be Mean to Baby", "New York City Ghost" with Victor Young, "You Was Right, Baby", "Just an Old Love of Mine", "Everything's Movin' Too Fast", "The Shining Sea", "He's A Tramp", "The Siamese Cat Song", "There Will Be Another Spring", "Johnny Guitar" with Victor Young, "Sans Souci" with Sonny Burke, "So What's New?", "Don't Smoke in Bed", "I Love Being Here With You", "Happy With the Blues" with Harold Arlen, "Where Can I Go Without You?", "Things Are Swingin'", "Then Was Then" with Cy Coleman, and many others. The first song that Peggy Lee composed was "Little Fool", published in 1941. "What More Can a Woman Do?" was recorded by Sarah Vaughan with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. "Manana (Is Soon Enough For Me)" was no.1 for 9 weeks on the Billboard singles chart in 1948, from the week of March 13 to May 8.

During a time when youths began turning to rock'n'roll, she was one of the mainstays of Capitol recordings. She was the first of the "old guard" to recognize this new genre, as is evident in her recordings of the Beatles, Randy Newman, Carole King, James Taylor and other up-and-coming songwriters. From 1957 until her final disc for the company in 1972, she routinely produced a steady stream of two or three albums per year which usually included standards (often arranged in a style quite different from the original), her own compositions, and material from young artists.
Click here to enjoy Peggy Lee singing "Why don't you do right?" before Benny Goodman's Orchestra.

She passed awy in january 2002.

Reference - Wikipédia

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