Jul 22, 2020
The centennial celebration of Peggy Lee’s birth continues to be commemorated with new music releases and the airing of an updated documentary. Honoring one of the 20thcentury’s most important musical influences in the world of jazz and popular music, and in conjunction with UMe/Capitol, the Peggy Lee Estate recently released The Capital Transcriptions 1946-1949 and the airing of an updated edition of “Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee” partnership with American Public Television.
During the 1940s, Capitol’s Transcription Library Service produced records exclusively for radio airplay and not commercial sale. From 1946-1949, Peggy Lee, backed mostly by a small jazz group, recorded masters for the Capitol Transcription Library Service. The Capitol Transcriptions 1946-1949, features 55 songs making their worldwide digital debut and includes two early Peggy Lee compositions, “Don’t Be So Mean To Baby” and “I Don’t Know Enough About You.”
“Fever: The Music of Peggy Lee”, which originally aired in 2004, has been newly updated for the centennial commemoration. The 60-minute PBS program, which will air in select markets in mid-July and premieres in most areas the week of August 29, explores her life and songs as told in her own words, though vintage interviews and performances. Check local listings for air dates and times.
This year has already seen the release of Ultimate Peggy Lee, a pristine and carefully curated career retrospective that features her hits, five songs she co-wrote, as well as the previously unreleased “Try A Little Tenderness,” which makes its world debut 57 years after it was recorded.
Also recently released is Peggy Lee Decca Rarities, a 31-song digital-only collection of artistically and commercially successful recordings over her career with Decca Records. Eleven of the featured tracks were co-composed by Lee, among these are seven songs co-written by Lee and Sonny Burke for Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, some of which did not make the final film. Though long associated with Capitol Records, Peggy Lee recorded with Decca for five years (1952-1956).
Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, she was christened Peggy Lee in 1937 by a local North Dakota deejay. A 13-time GRAMMY Award-nominee, Peggy Lee helped redefine what it meant to be a female singer with her captivating voice, which continues to resonate with audiences of all ages. Her compositions and recordings, including “It’s A Good Day,” “I Don’t Know Enough About You” and “I Love Being Here With You,” can be heard today in countless television shows and feature films. Best known for such songs as “Is That All There Is?,” “Fever,” “Why Don’t You Do Right,” and “I’m A Woman,” which made her a jazz and pop legend, she recorded over 50 albums and amassed over 100 chart entries. She won the GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance for her 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?” In 1995, she received the GRAMMY’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Coined “the female Frank Sinatra” by Tony Bennett, Miss Lee did something few of her male counterparts ever attempted: she wrote songs. As one of the foremothers of the singer-songwriter school, Lee ranks among the most successful female singer-songwriters in the annals of American popular music. Over her remarkable seven-decade career, singer, songwriter and composer Peggy Lee wrote over 250 songs and recorded over 1,100 masters.
Podcast 751 is my conversation with Peggy’s granddaughter, Holly Foster Wells, who is responsible for preserving Miss Lee’s musical legacy (and doing a fine job of it!). We talk about her memories of her famous grandmother, and talk about Miss Lee’s career in film, recording and songwriting, as well as her famous litigation with the Walt Disney Company over royalties for the home video release of “Lady and the Tramp.” Musical selections include "Old Trusty," a track intended for “Lady and the Tramp” and now found on Peggy Lee Decca Rarities and four of her best loved tunes that can be found on the Ultimate Pggy Lee album, "I Don't Know Enough About You," "He's a Tramp," her Grammy winning "Is That All There Is?," and for my money, the definitive version of "Black Coffee."