Artists - Peggy Lee

Artist Biography

Peggy Lee, born Norma Deloris Egstrom on May 26, 1920, in Jamestown, North Dakota, emerged as one of the most influential voices in the history of music. Her life and career were marked by resilience, creativity, and an enduring passion for her craft. Lee found solace in music from an early age. She taught herself to sing and play the piano, honing her skills in local venues and radio stations. Her determination caught the attention of bandleader Benny Goodman, who hired her as a vocalist for his band in the early 1940s. 

Lee’s time with Goodman’s band catapulted her to international fame, with hits like “Why Don’t You Do Right?” showcasing her smooth, sultry voice and impeccable phrasing. Her versatility as an artist became evident as she seamlessly transitioned between jazz, pop, and blues, captivating audiences with her emotive performances.

In the 1950s, Lee’s career reached new heights when she made her debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on October 22, 1950. That day, Lee and her guitar player husband, David Barbour were booked to perform first on the show, setting the mood for the rest of the evening. As Peggy entered the stage, Ed Sullivan greeted her very happily, which isn’t common with artists on the Sullivan Show when they first come onto the stage. She opened up with a beautiful rendition of “Show Me The Way To Get Out Of This World”, which was followed by Ed Sullivan saying “Peggy, you are magnificent.” After a couple more acts, Lee and her husband returned to the stage for one final song to close off their debut. In a little French style cafe, she performed a beautiful cover of “La Vie en Rose”.

Lee would return to the Sullivan Show twelve more times, solidifying herself as one of the top female performers who made it on the big stage. Beyond her success on television, Lee continued to push the boundaries of her artistry throughout her career. She wrote hit songs, collaborated with some of the industry’s top talents, and earned numerous accolades, including Grammy Awards and an Academy Award nomination for her role in the film “Pete Kelly’s Blues.”

In 2002, Peggy Lee passed away, leaving behind a body of work that remains as timeless and influential as ever. Her contributions to music and television, including her unforgettable performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, have solidified her place in the pantheon of greats. Her legacy lives on through her music, reminding us all of the power of art to transcend boundaries and touch the soul.

Check out our Peggy Lee playlist to view performances from The Ed Sullivan Show.