Peggy Lee, 1920-2002

  • Peggy-Lee-WWP

Woman Category: MusicWoman Tags: Singer and Songwriter

  • HerStory

    An award-winning singer-songwriter.

    Peggy Lee’s 6-decade musical career included more than 650 recorded songs and 60 albums. In 1995, she was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
    Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, she had a tough childhood – losing her mother at the age of four and staying with her alcoholic father and a stepmother. She began performing when she was 14 years old, and when her band was a guest at a local radio station, a program director advised her to change her name, saying “you look like a Peggy”.
    She moved to perform in Chicago, where her big breakthrough came in 1941 – with an invitation from the jazz bandleader Benny Goodman to join his orchestra as a vocalist.
    Lee met her first husband in the band, and the two moved to Los Angeles, where she started a solo recording career full of popular hits. Her version of “Fever” became her signature-song, capturing her playful, charismatic and sexy persona.
    In her forties, she became more active as a lyricist and wrote more than 100 songs.
    She also did some acting, with an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role as a troubled jazz singer in the film “Pete Kelly’s Blues”.

    “She knows what an exalted thing it is to be alive” – jazz singer Sylvia Syms about Peggy Lee.

    “She knows what an exalted thing it is to be alive” – jazz singer Sylvia Syms about Peggy Lee.


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She wrote many of the songs for the Disney cartoon feature “Lady and the Tramp”. When it was released on video in the 1980s, she filed a lawsuit against Disney for royalties and won millions.
    • The famous Muppet Miss Piggy was inspired by Peggy Lee, and at first was called Miss Piggy Lee.
    • She also explored her talents for painting, writing poetry, and fabric design.
    • She was married four times – to two actors and two musicians – and had one daughter.
    • Her fans included Albert Einstein and Aldous Huxley.
  • More About Her Legacy
    Creations By and About Her:

    * Her biography by James Gavin


    * Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
    * The Pied Piper Award from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)
    * The Presidents Award from the Songwriters' Guild of America
    * The Ella Award from the Society of Singers for Lifetime Achievement
    * The Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS)

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Woman Tags: Singer, Songwriter

    Fever - Peggy Lee

    The late great Peggy Lee, a favorite of mine (I'm a huge Jazz fan). Peggy was a singer in The Benny Goodman Orchestra before going solo. You may also know her as the voice of the Siamese Cats in Disneys 'Lady and The Tramp.'

  • Peggy Lee, 1950. Photo credit - Wikipedia.

  • Citations and Additional References:
    Peggy Lee website.
    Song Hall website.
    Grammy Awards website.