The Ultimate Peggy Lee

Tish Oney By

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In honor of the 100th birthday of Peggy Lee (which we celebrated May 26, kicking off an entire year of Peggy Lee celebrations around the world), I have been enjoying listening to this timeless artist in a number of ways. Writing my new book, Peggy Lee: A Century of Song, opened my eyes to the treasure trove of recorded music Lee left us as a rich legacy, and it was my goal to make her music the main character of this non-fiction story. I love her brand new album (in honor of her centennial) called Ultimate Peggy Lee which grabs songs from different periods throughout Lee's incredibly prolific career as a recording artist during which she produced no fewer than 1100 masters! It features a lot of her big hits including the title track of her Top 10 Jazz Vocal Album of All Time (Black Coffee), hit singles "Fever," "Big Spender," and the Grammy-winning collaboration with Leiber and Stoller, "Is That All There Is?" Her recording of "The Folks Who Live on the Hill" comes from her album The Man I Love for which Frank Sinatra conducted the orchestra (and she said she always thought of Frank when she sang it, since they were neighbors in Beverly Hills!) The poignancy with which she sang that song was phenomenal... "Try a Little Tenderness" is a new recording, making its debut last month as Lee's powerful rendition of a standard that never appeared as a single or even a track on one of her albums. Its entrance into Lee's recording canon is most welcome, as it is a breathlessly beautiful recording—so relevant to our times and a balm for our troubled world.

Peggy Lee: A Century of Song is available at Rowman & Littlefield.

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