All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Lee Wiley

Lee Wiley Lee Wiley

Sensual and dignified, sophisticated and warm, Lee Wiley has inspired outbursts of sheer poetry from many a captivated listener. Her sound induces a “marvelous,” “ticklish” sensation, akin to “running your hand over a piece of fine Harris tweed,” marveled producer Dave Garroway. She “blows smoke rings, each note a puff that melts into wisps of vibrato,” conceptualized author Will Friedwald. Her voice and style “have long since made me extremely eager to go to bed with her,” disclosed critic James Frazier. Not content with this daring confession, he also bluntly labeled her “one bitch of a singer.”

Protested singer and Wiley scholar Barbara Lea: “She had more fire, more rhythm, more roughness, more silkiness, more deep personal warmth, than the job description of Pop Singer called for.” Asked writer Richard Hadlock, in an open letter to Wiley, “Lee, have you ever wondered why so many… from road-tough musicians to jaded pub-crawlers, act like kids on Christmas when they hear you sing?” (Wiley did wonder.) The eulogies could go on for pages, but the point is clear enough: Lee Wiley is a singer with a certain mystique.

The Wiley mystique was generated by both personal and professional circumstances, and further fed by some willful biographical manipulation by her musical associates, her record labels, and the artist herself. Nicknamed “Pocahontas” and characterized as regal by her friends, Wiley descended from the princess of a Cherokee tribe and from an English missionary who married an American parishioner... according to publicity material. Her birth date remains uncertain - initially given as 1915, then moved back to 1910, still more recently to 1908 - and revisionism has taken over the more sensational aspects of her biography (running away from home in the late 1920s, temporary blindness after a fall from a horse in the early 1930s, a near encounter with tuberculosis in the mid-1930s, etc,).

Read more

Tags

Albums

Similar

Carmen McRae Carmen McRae
voice / vocals
Louis Prima Louis Prima
composer/conductor
June Christy June Christy
voice / vocals
Dakota Staton Dakota Staton
voice / vocals
Bing Crosby Bing Crosby
voice / vocals
Anita O'Day Anita O'Day
voice / vocals
Ethel Waters Ethel Waters
voice / vocals
Valaida Snow Valaida Snow
trumpet
Peggy Lee Peggy Lee
voice / vocals
Annie Ross Annie Ross
voice / vocals
Chris Connor Chris Connor
voice / vocals
Ivie Anderson Ivie Anderson
voice / vocals
Keely Smith Keely Smith
voice / vocals
Annette Hanshaw Annette Hanshaw
voice / vocals
Helen Humes Helen Humes
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.