Lee Wiley

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Lee Wiley
Background information
Born(1908-10-09)October 9, 1908
Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 1975(1975-12-11) (aged 67)
New York City
Years active1920s–1950s

Lee Wiley (October 9, 1908 – December 11, 1975) was an American jazz singer during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.


Wiley was born in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.[1] At fifteen, she left home to pursue a singing career, singing on New York City radio stations.[2] Her career was interrupted by a fall while horseback riding. She suffered temporary blindness but recovered. At the age of 19 she was a member of the Leo Reisman Orchestra, with whom in 1931 she recorded three songs: "Take It from Me", "Time On My Hands", and her composition "Got the South in My Soul".[3]

Wiley began her radio career at KVOO in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[4] She sang on the Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt program on NBC in 1932,[5] and was featured on Victor Young's radio show in 1933.[6] From June 10, 1936, until September 2, 1936, she had her own show, Lee Wiley, on CBS.[7]

In 1939, Wiley recorded eight Gershwin songs on 78s with a small group for Liberty Music Shop Records. The set sold well and was followed by 78s dedicated to the music of Cole Porter (1940) and Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart (1940 and 1954), Harold Arlen (1943), and 10" LPs dedicated to the music of Vincent Youmans and Irving Berlin (1951).

She sang with Paul Whiteman and later, the Casa Loma Orchestra. A collaboration with composer Victor Young resulted in several songs for which Wiley wrote the lyrics, including "Got the South in My Soul" and "Anytime, Anyday, Anywhere."[8]

On October 11, 1963, Bob Hope Theater on NBC-TV presented "Something About Lee Wiley". Piper Laurie portrayed Wiley in the episode, which was produced by Revue Studios.[9] Wiley's singing voice was provided by Joy Bryan.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Lee Wiley was born with last name Willey. Lee was a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and was buried in her family plot in Cherokee Nation. Wiley married the jazz pianist Jess Stacy in 1943. The couple was described by their friend Deane Kincaide as being as "compatible as two cats, tails tied together, hanging over a clothesline"; they divorced in 1948. Her response to Stacy's desire to get a divorce was, "What will Bing Crosby be thinking of you divorcing me?", while Stacy said of Wiley, "They did not burn the last witch at Salem."[11]


  • Night in Manhattan (Columbia, 1951)
  • Lee Wiley Sings Vincent Youmans (Columbia, 1952)
  • Lee Wiley Sings Irving Berlin (Columbia, 1952)
  • Lee Wiley Sings Rodgers & Hart (Storyville, 1954)
  • Duologue with Ellis Larkins (Storyville, 1954)
  • West of the Moon (RCA Victor, 1957)
  • A Touch of the Blues (RCA, 1958)
  • Back Home Again (Monmouth Evergeen, 1971)
  • On the Air (Totem, 1977)
  • The Complete Session of April 10, 1940 with Benny Berigan (Blu-Disc, 1984)
  • Live on Stage: Town Hall, New York (Audiophile, 2007)


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott (2000), Swing, Hal Leonard Corporation, pp. 293–95, ISBN 161774476X
  2. ^ Wright-McLeod, Brian (30 January 2018). The Encyclopedia of Native Music: More Than a Century of Recordings from Wax Cylinder to the Internet. University of Arizona Press. pp. 209–. ISBN 978-0-8165-3864-5. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  3. ^ Stanley Green, Liner Notes, Lee Wiley Sings Rodgers and Hart and Harold Arlen, Monmouth-Evergreen Record, LP MES/6807
  4. ^ Stuart, William L. (September 6, 1936). "Listen to the Echo of a Distant Drum". Detroit Free Press. Michigan, Detroit. p. 55. Retrieved 3 August 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  6. ^ Hoffman, J. (September 30, 1933). "Air Briefs" (PDF). Billboard. p. 13. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  7. ^ Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 390. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  8. ^ John Chilton, Who's Who in Jazz, 1978 Time-Life, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 72-188159.
  9. ^ Witbeck, Charles (October 11, 1963). "N.B.C. To Feature Jazz Singer of '30's, Lee Wiley's Life, on Bob Hope Theater". The Journal News. New York, White Plains. p. 21. Retrieved 3 August 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Stern, Harold (October 22, 1963). "Hope Missed Chance To Feature Lee Wiley". The Troy Record. New York, Troy. p. 8. Retrieved 3 August 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ Coller, D. (1998). Jess Stacy: The Quiet Man of Jazz, GHB Jazz Foundation, 1998; ISBN 978-0-9638890-4-1