100 years ago tomorrow – May 26, 1920 – Norma Deloris Egstrom was born in Jamestown, North Dakota. You know her as Peggy Lee: groundbreaking singer, songwriter, actress, and artist. Though she passed away in 2002, her music is as present today as ever – and her influence just as strong. Peggy’s songs have recently scored such television shows as Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and have been heard in commercials promoting Samsung and Tropicana products while her classic compositions from Walt Disney’s 1955 animated film Lady and the Tramp have been introduced to a new generation in the Disney+ remake. This year has already seen the digital release of Ultimate Peggy Lee, and on June 19, the 22-song career-spanning anthology (premiering the previously unreleased “Try a Little Tenderness”) will arrive on both CD and vinyl from Capitol Records. But that’s not all there is.
Tomorrow, fans can join in the celebration with a very special panel discussion debuting on The Grammy Museum’s website. The pre-taped event, moderated by the museum’s Scott Goldman, features Peggy’s granddaughter and President of Peggy Lee Enterprises, Holly Foster Wells along with author Dr. Tish Oney and a number of artists influenced by Lee including five-time Grammy Award winner and chart-topping singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, four-time Grammy recipient k.d. lang, and Grammy nominee Eric Burton of psychedelic soul duo Black Pumas.
The Grammy Museum is an appropriate home for a Lee tribute; she was the first ever female artist to be nominated for Record of the Year at the inaugural Grammys (for “Fever”) in 1958. Peggy took the trophy home for 1969’s landmark “Is That All There Is?” and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. As well as the discussion, the museum will premiere a virtual tour of Lee memorabilia dating from the 1930s through the 2000s. The exhibit was scheduled to open at the physical location in Los Angeles but has been delayed due to COVID-19; however, this affords fans everywhere the chance to experience its treasures. The exhibit will open at the site once it’s possible for The Grammy Museum to resume in-person operations.
There’s still more to come. Later this summer, the 2004 documentary Fever – The Music Of Peggy Lee will return to public television stations nationwide in a refreshed version. The musical biography explores Lee’s career from her big band days with Benny Goodman to her breakthrough as a solo performer and pioneering female singer-songwriter. Among those interviewed in the program are daughter Nikki Foster, Quincy Jones, k.d. lang, Nancy Sinatra, Michael Feinstein, Margaret Whiting, arranger Billy May, composer Cy Coleman, bassist Max Bennett , drummer Grady Tate, and Holly Foster-Wells.
A pair of additional new Lee releases will be offered as “pledge premiums” for viewers who make donations in support of public television. The DVD titled Things Are Swingin’ – Her Greatest Songs will include a newly-restored presentation of Lee’s full-color 1967 television special along with over half an hour of extra material and rare footage spanning the 1940s through the 1970s.
Something Wonderful – Peggy Lee Sings The Great American Songbook will be a double CD containing several dozen remastered radio performances by Lee and a few surprise guests from the 1950s that have not been heard since. More details on these exciting and exclusive public television promotional items will be announced in the coming weeks.
Indeed, it’s a good day to celebrate Miss Peggy Lee – and we hope you’ll join us in visiting The Grammy Museum from the comfort of your own home mañana!