Peggy Lee's Photo

Peggy Lee


Peggy Lee Biography

Peggy Lee (born Norma Deloris Egstrom; May 26, 1920 – January 21, 2002) was an American jazz and popular music singer, songwriter, composer, and actress, in a career spanning six decades. From her beginning as a vocalist on local radio to singing with Benny Goodman's big band, she forged a sophisticated persona, evolving into a multi-faceted artist and performer. She wrote music for films, acted, and created conceptual record albums—encompa**ing poetry, jazz, chamber pop, and songs.

Peggy Lee was born as Norma Deloris Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, the seventh of eight children to parents Marvin Olof Egstrom, a station agent for the Midland Continental Railroad, and his wife Selma Amelia (Anderson) Egstrom, on May 26, 1920. She and her family were Lutherans.[1] Her father was Swedish-American and her mother was Norwegian-American.[2] Her mother died when Peggy was four.[3] Afterwards, her father married her stepmother Min Schaumber, who treated her with great cruelty while her loving but alcoholic father did little to stop it.[4] Later, she developed her musical talent and took several part-time jobs so that she could be away from home to escape the abuse of her stepmother.
Lee first sang professionally over KOVC radio in Valley City, North Dakota.[5] She later had her own series on a radio show sponsored by a local restaurant that paid her a salary in food. Both during and after her high school years, Lee sang for small sums on local radio stations. Radio personality Ken Kennedy, of WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota (the most widely heard station in North Dakota), changed her name from Norma to Peggy Lee.[6] Lee left home and traveled to Los Angeles at the age of 17.
She returned to North Dakota for a tonsillectomy and was noticed by hotel owner Frank Bering while working at the Doll House in Palm Springs, California.[7] It was here that she developed her trademark sultry purr – having decided to compete with the noisy crowd with subtlety rather than volume. Beringin offered her a gig at The Buttery Room, a nightclub in the Amba**ador Hotel East in Chicago. There, she was noticed by bandleader Benny Goodman. According to Lee, "Benny's then-fiancée, Lady Alice Duckworth, came into The Buttery, and she was very impressed. So the next evening she brought Benny in, because they were looking for a replacement for Helen Forrest. And although I didn't know, I was it. He was looking at me strangely, I thought, but it was just his preoccupied way of looking. I thought that he didn't like me at first, but it just was that he was preoccupied with what he was hearing." She joined his band in 1941 and stayed for two years.


Related Links

No links are attached to this artist.