Sunday, June 26, 2022

A musical tribute to a native North Dakota daughter!

 "Oh, what a night!"  Of course, that's a Frankie Valli line from the Four Seasons's hit record, December, 1963, but I'm going to apply it to the Peggy Lee Tribute Concert on Friday night, June 17, 2022 at the new Center for the Arts auditorium on the campus of Valley City State University. A good number of our 1961 classmates were on hand for this free concert conducted by band leader and vocalist Myron Sommerfeld and his orchestra along with his daughter, vocalist Bonnie Sommerfeld. Planners for Valley City Rally Days hope to make this Peggy Lee Day tribute an annual event.

New on the Valley City State University Campus

Myron Sommerfeld (in the blue sport coat) participated in the vocals as he played the drums with the orchestra, while his daughter (in the red dress) sang Peggy Lee classics. Myron did an exceptionally good rendition of Louis Armstrong's classic, It's a Wonderful World.
Click on picture for larger image

Holly Foster Wells, Peggy Lee's granddaughter spoke to the audience live via Zoom from California. She thanked everyone for honoring her grandmother and was sorry she couldn't be there. However, she plans to be in Valley City, in person, for Peggy Lee Day next year.

Bonnie Sommerfeld performed most of the vocals from the Peggy Lee repertoire, although during the serving of ice cream in Ms. Lee's favorite color, pink, some folks were commenting that one of Peggy's biggest hit songs from 1969, Is that All There Is? was not included in the tribute. However, a satisfying selection of numbers from the "Peggy Lee Songbook" were performed by the orchestra and Ms. Sommerfeld... and performed very well, indeed! Thank you!

The above photo is above the mural painted on the northwest corner of the Rudolf Hotel building by Bill Cochran of Bridgetown Imprints. The mural was commissioned by the Bridges Arts Council of Valley City and it reminds us that Peggy Lee got her start in radio at KOVC in 1936. Then, she sang using her real name, Norma Deloris Egstrom of Wimbledon, North Dakota. When Ms. Egstrom moved on to WDAY in Fargo, program director Ken Kennedytold me that she auditioned at the studios in the Black Building. He told her "love the singing, but that name has to go." She asked, "what should I call myself?" Ken replied, "I think you're a Peggy." And  the rest is musical history. Imagine...about 22 years after Peggy Lee worked in those Rudolf Hotel studios of KOVC, just on the other side of the wall where her likeness is now beautifully painted, I was privileged to work there in about 1958.  

CBS Sunday Morning has produced a documentary on Peggy Lee's career and her roots in North Dakota. To view that documentary, click here.     LG 6-26-2022

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