With hits like “Fever” and “Is That All There Is,” and an inimitable persona, Peggy Lee is an icon.
In a career spanning six decades, she was an honored singer, songwriter, composer and actress, who teamed with legends like Arlen and Ellington to produce songs like “I’m Gonna Go Fishin” and “He’s a Tramp.” She surveyed the musical landscape of her times and claimed it as her own.
Billy Stritch, artistic director, host, piano & vocals
Mark Waldrop, stage director
Barbara Fasano, vocals
La Tanya Hall, vocals
Gabrielle Stravelli, vocals
Marilyn Maye, special guest
John Hart, guitar
Tom Hubbard, bass
Ray Marchica, drums
For a selected song list and bios, click Program Notes tab.
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The Feb 23 evening performance is underwritten by The Henry Nias Foundation, courtesy of Dr. Stanley Edelman. The Feb 24 afternoon performance is underwritten by The Edythe Kenner Foundation.
Explore The Music
(Click the names below to expand info.)
A Note From the Directors
Most Americans who were alive in the middle decades of the 20th century know Peggy Lee. Or they think they do—the blonde hair, worn in a striking series of styles through the years; the sultry brown eyes, whose lids seemed to be perpetually at half-mast; the beauty mark accenting lips that smiled, curled, or pouted so effectively. And the voice! Peggy Lee’s voice never pushed; it drew you in with subtlety—an unexpectedly accented note, an insinuating fall-off at the end of a phrase, a purr shading into a growl. She could swing, and she could smolder. Musicians all remarked on her unerring sense of time. Her fans agreed that no one could put across a lyric quite like Peggy.
But what many people didn’t realize was that Peggy Lee actually wrote (or sometimes co-wrote) many of those lyrics herself—from hits like “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” “It’s a Good Day” and “Mañana” to the score for Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. Among the great singers from the golden age of American popular music, Peggy Lee was the only one who regularly moonlighted as a lyricist.
Of course, Peggy Lee sang hundreds of songs with lyrics by other people. Her ear for a turn of phrase, her sly sense of humor combined with a deep spirituality, drew her time and again to material by top-notch lyricists like Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn, Johnny Burke and Larry Hart—material that allowed her to showcase the full range of her expressiveness. Peggy knew what would work for her—and sometimes she had to fight to get it. She battled heavy resistance before she recorded Leiber and Stoller’s “Is That All There Is?” It became one of her defining hits.
Born Norma Deloris Egstrom in a dot on the map called Jamestown, North Dakota, the young Peggy could scarcely have imagined the success she would eventually enjoy in one arena of show business after another. She became a top band singer, a radio star, an Academy Award®–nominated film actress, a sought-after television personality and a nightclub performer who took that art form to a whole new level.
Above all, Peggy Lee was a singer’s singer, adored by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé and Bing Crosby. During her legendary appearances at New York’s Basin Street East, the tables were crowded with repeat customers like Cary Grant, Jimmy Durante and Robert Preston. What kept them coming back? The lady herself—and her way with a lyric. This weekend we celebrate Peggy Lee’s words—the ones by other writers that she made uniquely her own and the hits she actually penned herself.
–Billy Stritch & Mark Waldrop
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Selected Song List
As a special preview, here is a selection of songs from:
Give Me Fever: The Many Voices of Peggy Lee
BLACK COFFEE (1948)
Lyrics by Paul Francis; music by Sonny Burke
Lyrics and music by Johnny Davenport, Eddie Cooley and Little Willie John, with additional lyrics by Peggy Lee
HE’S A TRAMP
Lyrics by Peggy Lee; music by Sonny Burke From Lady and the Tramp / Film (1955)
I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT YOU
Lyrics by Peggy Lee; music by Dave Barbour
IS THAT ALL THERE IS? (1968)
Lyrics by Jerry Leiber; music by Mike Stoller
IT’S A GOOD, GOOD NIGHT (1957)
Lyrics & music by Peggy Lee
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart; music by Richard Rodgers From Love Me Tonight / Film (1932)
MAÑANA (IS SOON ENOUGH FOR ME) (1948)
Lyrics by Peggy Lee; music by Dave Barbour
THAT’S MY STYLE (1964)
Lyrics by Peggy Lee; music by Cy Coleman
THERE’LL BE ANOTHER SPRING
Lyrics by Peggy Lee; music by Hubie Wheeler
Program is subject to change.
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Billy Stritch is one of the premier singer-pianists on the New York and national jazz and cabaret scene. He has appeared in many Lyrics & Lyricists shows, including the 2011 tour of New York nightclubs, the 2010 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Songbook and the 2009 tribute to Mel Tormé, which he co-conceived and hosted.
Billy’s most recent Broadway credit was as musical supervisor and pianist for the Tony® Award–winning musical event Liza’s at the Palace, for which he also reconceived the vocal arrangements of the legendary Kay Thompson and The Williams Brothers. In 2001 he originated the role of Oscar, the rehearsal pianist, in the Broadway revival of 42nd Street and played the part for 488 performances.
In addition to his 22-year collaboration with Liza Minnelli, Billy also accompanies and arranges for Linda Lavin, Klea Blackhurst, and Marilyn Maye, who is also featured in tonight’s show. Billy created the arrangements for “The Best Is Yet to Come—The Music of Cy Coleman” at New York’s 59E59 Theater in 2011. He is featured on numerous albums including Linda Lavin’s Possibilities, Sunday in New York with Christine Ebersole, Dreaming of a Song—The Music of Hoagy Carmichael with Klea Blackhurst and his latest solo release, Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé.
The readers of Broadway World named Billy as New York City’s top musical director of 2012 for his work on the acclaimed show “Marilyn Maye by Request.” Other awards and honors include BMI Song of the Year; a Grammy® Award nomination for “Does He Love You,” recorded by Reba McEntire; four Backstage Bistro awards and six MAC Awards. During the months of March, June, September and December of this year, Billy will be performing on Sunday evenings with Jim Caruso at Bemelman’s Bar at the legendary Carlyle Hotel. His website is billystritch.com.
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Mark Waldrop returns to 92Y to direct his seventh Lyrics & Lyricists production; last season he made his debut as artistic director in a battle of musical wits between Noël Coward and Cole Porter. On Broadway, Mark directed and provided special material for Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends, which earned a Tony Award nomination for Unique Theatrical Event. He similarly directed and wrote material for Bette Midler on her Divine Miss Millennium tour and has directed cabaret and concert performances for Faith Prince, Sutton Foster, Brooke Shields, Rebecca Luker, John Lloyd Young and Johnny Rodgers, among many others.
Off-Broadway, Mark’s directorial credits include the New York City Center Encores! production of Ziegfeld Follies of 1936; the 2012 and previous editions of Newsical: the Musical; Game Show; Pete ‘n’ Keely and Listen to My Heart. He was director, book writer and lyricist for the multiple award-winning and now legendary Howard Crabtree’s When Pigs Fly. Regionally, Mark has worked for leading venues like Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY at St. Louis, Houston’s Theater Under the Stars and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
In 1995 Mark received the prestigious Edward Kleban Award for lyricists. Among his writing credits are the lyrics and script for Radio City Music Hall’s 75th Anniversary Christmas Spectacular and the lyrics for three TheaterWorks USA scores: Gold Rush, A Christmas Carol and Bunnicula. As an actor, Mark was in the original Broadway casts of Evita, La Cage aux Folles and The Grand Tour. He can be heard on the sound tracks of Disney’s Aladdin, Pocahontas and Mulan, and on the cast recording of Hey, Love.
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Barbara Fasano brings a soulful approach to material ranging from Harold Arlen to Joni Mitchell. Her performances and recordings have won her three Backstage Bistro awards, three MAC awards and a New York Nightlife award. She has performed in virtually all of New York’s most prestigious venues, from Birdland and the Iridium to Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and she has appeared at concert halls and jazz festivals across the country. This summer Barbara will make her London debut at Brasserie Zédel.
Together with frequent musical partner Eric Comstock, Barbara was among the last performers to headline at the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel; their show, “Helluva Town: A New York Soundtrack,” enjoyed an acclaimed and sold-out run and toured the country. Barbara has also worked with international jazz stars John di Martino, Warren Vaché, Gene Bertoncini and Sean Smith, and last year she appeared at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with Bucky Pizzarelli, Andy Bey, Harry Allen and Billy Stritch. Her recordings include her first EP CD, which features “Blackberry Winter,” followed by her two award-winning CDs: Written in the Stars, a Harold Arlen collection; and The Girls of Summer, based on her one-woman show.
A native New Yorker, Barbara earned a BFA at Hofstra University. As a teacher, she has an ongoing relationship with the University of Michigan’s Theatre Department, and last year she taught for The Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative. Her past Lyrics & Lyricists appearances include the Johnny Mercer Centennial Concert in 2009 and the Johnny Burke show in 2010. Her website is humanchild.com.
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La Tanya Hall
With a versatility in a variety of musical genres, La Tanya Hall has collaborated with some of music’s most celebrated artists, including Diana Ross, Michael Feinstein, Burt Bacharach, Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle. Since 2002 La Tanya has been a member of Bobby McFerrin’s 12-voice ensemble Voicestra, and is prominently featured on his new recording, SpiritYouAll, coming out this spring on Universal Music. Last summer, she appeared as part of the “Dukes of September” tour with Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs.
In 2007 and 2008, La Tanya toured extensively with Steve Tyrell, appearing with him in a 9-week run at the Café Carlyle and on the “The Today Show” and “The Tonight Show”; she can be heard on Tyrell’s recording, Back to Bacharach. In 2008 she released her own debut recording, It’s About Time, on Bridge Records, to great critical acclaim. Earlier in her career, La Tanya toured with Harry Belafonte for five years, doing an average of 150 shows a year; she sang with him on “Skin To Skin,” on both the recording and PBS special, “An Evening with Harry Belafonte and Friends.”
A frequent guest at Lyrics & Lyricists, La Tanya’s theater credits include Cotton Club Parade with Wynton Marsalis and Promises, Promises for New York City Center Encores! as well as the role of Deena in the last national tour of Dreamgirls. She was most recently seen on television as Sabine Winston on CBS’s “Blue Bloods,” and she has been a guest star on “Law & Order,” “The Sopranos” and others. Her website is latanyahall.com.
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Gabrielle Stravelli has garnered critical acclaim for her unique take on material from jazz, the American Songbook and what she calls the “new American Songbook.” Last August she released her debut CD, Waiting in Vain, featuring a wide range of hits, from Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” and Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
Gabrielle has appeared in other New York area venues including Carnegie Hall, the Birdland and Iridium jazz clubs, the Hammerstein Ballroom, BB King Blues Club and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. As an actress, she is active in New York’s theater scene and has collaborated with several award-winning composers and lyricists, including 1999 Tony Award winner Warren Leight. Gabrielle has appeared as a soloist with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing and the Cincinnati Pops; she sang the role of Anita in West Side Story with the Kentucky Symphony and performed the role of Jeannie in the European tour of Hair.
Gabrielle began singing as a soloist with orchestras at the age of 15 and holds a BFA from the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music. In 2008 she was awarded the Backstage Bistro Award for Performer on the Rise. Gabrielle was one of 10 vocalists selected internationally for the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Competition, and in 2009 she was first runner-up at the Jazzmobile Vocal Competition in Harlem, in addition to being ranked among the top ten cabaret acts by theaterscene.net. Her website is gabriellestravelli.com.
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Marilyn Maye has dedicated her entire life to the art of singing and performance. She appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” 76 times, the record for a singer. After many of her performances, Johnny would turn to his audience of millions and say, “And that, young singers, is the way it’s done.”
Marilyn is a mainstay in the New York City cabaret scene, as critics consistently note her zest and energy in addition to her musical and dramatic narrative skills. On March 5-16, she returns to New York to present “Maye-den Voyage” at 54 Below. This will be her 45th engagement in New York since 2006; she has presented “The Maye Way” and shows on the music of Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter and Ray Charles in such venues as Feinstein’s at the Regency, the Metropolitan Room and Birdland.
At last month’s New York Nightlife Awards, Marilyn was named a Nightlight Legend, the Awards’ highest honor, and in 2010 she received the prestigious Mabel Mercer Award. Since 2009 she has been voted celebrity artist every year by the Manhattan Association of Cabaret and Clubs, and last October, the Chicago Cabaret Professionals gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award.
An RCA recording artist, Marilyn’s hits have included “Cabaret,” “Sherry” and “Step to the Rear.” The Smithsonian Institution chose her recording of “Too Late Now,” taken from her Lamp Is Low album, for its “Best Performers of the Best Compositions of the 20th Century” collection. Marilyn shares her performance methods in master classes and private coaching across the country. Her website is marilynmaye.com.
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Active in the New York jazz scene for almost 30 years, guitarist John Hart played with organist Jack McDuff for 16 years and he has worked with such artists as Jimmy Smith, Lou Donaldson, James Moody, Jon Hendricks and Dr. Lonnie Smith. He has played with the Maria Schneider Orchestra for the past two decades and in bands led by Brian Blade, Chris Potter, Larry Goldings and others. He is currently touring with vocalist Hilary Kole.
John has appeared on more than 100 CDs as a sideman. As a leader, he has made 8 CDs on the prestigious Blue Note and Concord record labels. The John Hart Quartet toured extensively for seven years and was featured on NPR’s “Jazzset”; it was followed by the John Hart Trio, with John, organist Akiko Tsuruga and drummer Steve Johns. In 2011, the Trio released Comfort Zone on the index Jazz label, which features John's original compositions and a few standards. He is also involved in producing, arranging and recording projects in his own studio.
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Tom Hubbard is a bassist, composer and arranger in New York City. He has performed with instrumentalists Kenny Barron, Jay McShann, Charlie Rouse, Dewey Redman, Beaver Harris, Dannie Richmond and Ron Affif, among others. Tom has accompanied a long list of singers including Joe Williams, Mose Allison, Freddy Cole, Chris Connor, Sheila Jordan, Liza Minnelli, Marilyn Maye, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
Tom wrote arrangements for and performed on seven of Freddy Cole’s CDs and contributed arrangements for recordings by Grover Washington, Jr., George Mraz, Archie Shepp, and the Milestone Jazz All-Stars. He has performed in some of the top venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, the Sydney Opera House, Tokyo’s NHK Hall and Frankfurt’s Alte Oper. His website is tomhubbardbass.com.
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Ray Marchica is the drummer for Mamma Mia, and he has played for such shows as A Chorus Line, Woman of the Year, La Cage aux Folles, Starlight Express, The Will Rogers Follies and Damn Yankees. Ray has accompanied artists such as Bernadette Peters, Betty Buckley, Tommy Tune, Joel Grey, Michael Feinstein, Leslie Uggams, Shirley Bassey, James Naughton and Marilyn Maye.
A graduate of Brooklyn College, Ray is a member of The Ed Palermo Big Band, Gary Morgan & PanAmericana! Latin Jazz Orchestra and Mike Longo & the NY State of the Art Jazz Ensemble. He has recorded with James Brown, Little Richard, Dan Hartman, Roy Buchanan, Amanda Brecker and Barbra Streisand, among others. Ray has recorded two CDs with his own group, including In the Ring on the Sons of Sound label. His website is raymarchica.com.
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