The book "Peggy Lee, A Century of Song" by Tish Oney is crafted by a woman who knows the history of the singer as well as her songs.
"I felt I needed to write a book to communicate her importance in music," she said. "Her musicianship was very good and she was a great songwriter."
The artist who would become Peggy Lee was born in Jamestown in 1920. This year marks the centennial of her birth although much of the activities planned around that milestone have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Oney one of the planned participants in those events.
"I think her upbringing had a lot to do with how hard she worked," she said.
The narrative of the book includes a reference to Lee's childhood but focuses on the musical legacy of the singer rather her life story.
"She is still important today," Oney said, referring to Lee's musical influences. "There are a lot of contemporary artists that say they looked up to her and she influenced them and their careers."
Oney has been touring with a "lecture recital" of Lee's songs with the cooperation of Peggy Lee's family. She also selected the subject for her doctoral dissertation and expanded that into a book about the music.
"They wound up being songs I loved," she said. "Her recordings aren't dated or passe. The music transcends time both in the originals and in covers of her songs by others."
Oney said Lee also set trends in popular music and entertainment still followed today. Her album Black Coffee was the first concept album where all songs were connected to a central theme. She also was one of the first women singers to branch out into acting and writing.
"Like Sinatra and Crosby, she did some films," Oney said. "Her collaborations with others helped solidify her importance as a songwriter."
Oney said Lee had a library of more than 1,100 songs and the book helps readers understand her importance in the entertainment industry.
Locally, the book is available at the Dakota Store in Jamestown.