Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee: A Century of Song

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
Release date: July 5, 2020

One hundred years after the singer’s birth, Peggy Lee: A Century of Song brings to life the eventful career of an iconic performer whose contributions to the Great American Songbook, jazz, popular music, and film music remain unparalleled. Tish Oney sheds new light upon this Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner’s impressive musical talents while guiding the reader through the best of Lee’s fifty-plus albums, radio and TV performances, creative contributions to the film industry, and over half a century of finely-polished live performances. Oney focuses on the evolution of Peggy Lee’s recorded music, vocal development, artistic achievements, and contributions to American music while interviews with Lee’s family, friends, and music colleagues reveal new insights and memories of this musical icon. Peggy Lee: A Century of Song enables readers to discover a brilliant artist’s inimitable legacy in the history of American popular music.

Early Reviews

“On the centenary of Peggy Lee’s birth, professor, musicologist, and international jazz recording artist Oney chronicles the protean musical talents and accomplishments of this gifted composer, lyricist, arranger, actor, and vocalist whose prodigious catalog of 50-plus albums encompassed jazz, blues, pop, and R&B. Oney details Lee’s six-decade-long improbable journey from a farm in rural North Dakota to enshrinement as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Avoiding salacious gossip or indiscreet stories, Oney states her purpose is to focus ‘exclusively on Lee’s musical footprint and artistic legacy.’ The arrangement is largely chronological, with distinct chapters devoted to Lee’s involvement with film, television, and Broadway. Oney’s musical exegesis is thorough and sure to satisfy music scholars. Those seeking the skinny on personal information, such as Lee’s four marriages and subsequent divorces, should look elsewhere, but those wanting to geek out on the subtleties of Lee’s jazz slides, phrasing, and vocal interpretive prowess will be richly rewarded. ” — Barry X. Miller, Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Jazz composer Oney celebrates the centennial of musician Peggy Lee’s birth in a melodious tribute to the singer’s versatility as a singer and composer. Lee (1920–2002) grew up in North Dakota and during high school had guest spots singing on local radio stations until she was offered her own show. At age 17 she left for California, where she was discovered by and joined up with band leader Benny Goodman. She eventually left Goodman’s band to pursue a solo career, and signed a contract with Capitol Records, releasing her first album, Rendezvous with Peggy Lee, in 1947. Oney illustrates how Lee’s restless creativity and canny music and business sense helped her climb the ladder of success and expanded her audiences. In the 1950s Lee was offered another radio show, the Peggy Lee Show (also known as Club 88), a segment of which was to highlight contemporary composers such as Frank Loesser and Hoagy Carmichael. In the 1970s, Lee collaborated with such stars as Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, which introduced her to a new generation of listeners. As Oney points out, Lee’s ways with a song allowed her to move with ease from singing blues and jazz to popular contemporary songs. This is a delightful volume for fans of American pop standards.” — Publishers Weekly

“Oney pays tribute to the iconic singer by focusing “exclusively on Lee’s musical footprint and artistic legacy.” Previous books about Lee haven’t paid sufficient attention to her musicianship, Oney writes, and she capably fills the void with this thoughtful and perceptive look at Lee’s 60-year career. Lee recorded more than 50 albums and composed more than 250 songs, and Oney describes how many were created. Lee worked with a number of notables in American popular song, and among them were Benny Goodman, Bing Crosby, Mel Tormé, Vic Damone, Perry Como, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. Lee was also an advocate for intellectual property rights and royalties for film composers, songwriters, and musical performers. In her early years as a big band singer to her recordings for Capitol, Decca, and other labels; her film contributions as performer, composer, and lyricist; her concerts and collaborations with other artists, new and established; her television performances; and more, Peggy Lee left her mark on American music. Oney’s fresh and comprehensive biography is the perfect way to celebrate the centennial of Lee’s birth.” — Booklist

About the Author

Tish Oney has appeared as soloist with symphony orchestras, big bands, and jazz combos at performing arts centers, concert halls, and jazz festivals throughout the world. Possessing a doctorate in jazz from USC, she has taught at scores of institutions as a professor and artist-in-residence, successfully pursuing a dual career in performance and pedagogy. As musicologist, author, jazz singer, lyric soprano, arranger, composer, and conductor, Dr. Oney performs and teaches worldwide. She composes and arranges a wide variety of commissioned concerts and writes peer-reviewed articles on jazz theory and voice pedagogy as well as books about music.

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