Peggy Lee. (b Jamestown, North Dakota, 26 May 1920; d Los Angeles, 21 Jan 2002). American popular singer, songwriter and actress. She began singing in a church choir, then on the radio, and from 1936 toured with dance bands. Her first hit was “Why don’t you do right?” (1942) with Benny Goodman’s band. In 1943 she married the guitarist Dave Barbour, with whom she wrote the song “Mañana” (1947), and in 1944 she left the swing bands and began a career on her own. Through the 1950s she had several hit songs, notably with “Fever” (1958), and recorded many successful albums for Capitol. She had a successful film début in a remake of “The Jazz Singer” (1953) and portrayed an alcoholic blues singer in “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (1955). She continued to make recordings and perform in concert until the late 1980s but was increasingly troubled by ill-health.
Lee’s voice was small, with a compass of little more than an octave and a half; her distinction lay in her characterization of songs, achieved through vocal colour and inflection with careful attention to the subtleties of language, to musical arrangements and to stage manner and presentation. Though she was first a singer in the swing style, unlike many of her colleagues she did little improvisation. She wrote or collaborated on over 500 songs, including the song score for Disney’s animated feature Lady and the Tramp (1955). She published the autobiography Miss Peggy Lee (New York, 1990).
Source: Oxford Music Online