Lee Wiley

Her husky, surprisingly sensual voice and exquisitely cool readings of pop standards distinguished her singing, but Lee Wiley earns notice as one of the best early jazz singers by recognizing the superiority of American popular song and organizing a set of songs around a common composer or theme - later popularized as the songbook or concept LP. She was also a songwriter in her own right, and one of the few white vocalists with more respect in the jazz community than the popular one. Even more tragic then, that while dozens of inferior vocalists recorded LPs during the late '50s and '60s, Wiley appeared on record just once between 1957 and her death in 1975.

Wiley was born on October 9, 1910 in Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma; early press reports claimed lineage from a Cherokee princess, as well as a birthdate five years later than the true one. Whatever her background, she began singing at an...

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