Peggy Lee will join Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald when she received the Pied Piper Award of ASCAP. The organization’s highest accolade, it goes to an entertainer for lifetime achievement. The award has been given nine times in the 28 years since it was established by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Today some of her peers will pay tribute to her as a songwriter at a reception at the Ballroom in Manhattan, where she is performing though March 25, and celebrate The Peggy Lee Songbook, a new album of her songs.
Miss Lee has written more than 100 songs since she began in 1941. “There were no women songwriters then,” she recalled. “I started writing because I was going to retire and not sing anymore; I had just married and was going to just stay home. I found myself with a lot of extra energy and inspiration, and I started writing for fun.”
An early song, “That Old Feeling,” was an instant hit, so she kept going, writing mostly lyrics, but sometimes music too. Among her other hits are “It’s a Good Day” and “Mañana,” which have been recorded by many singers. (“Fever,” one of her signatures, was written by Little Willie John.) “The biggest thrill,” she said, “is hearing other people singing your material.” She will officially become a Pied Piper on May 8 in Washington.