Singer Peggy Lee was the inspiration for Miss Piggy. Yes, that Muppet Show’s stylish, self-assured pink blonde with a deep sense of romance. How many of us can bow to that kind of praise? Her career spanned six decades; she sang jazz and popular music, but she also was a songwriter, composer, and actress. Such a multi-talented woman!

She started as a big band singer with Benny Goodman. What a dream start! Although you can’t really say that from her personal life, as she fled from an abusive stepmother and an alcoholic father. Peggy Lee chose subtlety rather than volume to compete with noisy crowds. Sensuous and smoky-voiced, she could woo her audiences with a blink of her eye or a snap of her fingers.

You may know her famous hit, that sold over a million copies in 1943: Why Don’t You Do Right? Her magnetic version of Fever is still being covered all over the world. And how about that iconic Is That All There Is? Now… If you’re a singer, what can you learn from Miss Peggy Lee? To me, her coolness stands out. The way she gracefully sings her songs while staying away from embellishments.

When I listen to Peggy Lee, I’m charmed by her conversational style, with hardly any vibrato, her fabulous timing, her majestic cool composure – she’s sooo in control! You could try to master one of her trademarks at home. Sing your lines, just plainly as they were written, and keep your inner Ad-Lib-Diva quiet. See where this may lead you. Record yourself! Listen!

If the songs you choose are written well, there’s little more you need to do to impress your audience. The melody will lead you. Your words will be remarkably well heard. Less is more. Have fun trying this out!

While we’re at it, there’s another aspect of Peggy Lee that I dig. Her photos! Many of them are mesmerizing, full of beauty, style and glamor. Of course, it’s a matter of taste, but I think that great photos can never harm you. If you too want stunning photos – look around for THE most wonderful photographer, a stylist whose work you love, a magical hair stylist, the best makeup artist money can buy, a groovy nail artist, and a studio you feel comfortable in with props that work for you, with the best lighting.

Oh and yes… prepare yourself. Sleep well, don’t drink (too much). Lose those extra pounds, work out. Never said it was just a walk in the park, did I? ? Now I’m off to do my share of running. Those pounds, those pounds. Elastic jeans give you the wrong impression. Next time I’ll sing the elastane blues. Bump into you at the park, will I?

With love, Ilse

My album tip for you:

Is That All There Is? (Capitol, 1969)

Peggy Lee: