Julia M Lee

Julia M Lee

Birth
Boonville, Cooper County, Missouri, USA
Death 8 Dec 1958 (aged 55)
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Burial Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Plot block 4
Memorial ID 68710199 · View Source
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Julia was born in Boonville, Missouri to George and Katie (Wright) Lee. She was raised in Kansas City, and began her musical career around 1920, singing and playing piano in her brother George Lee's band, which for a time also included Charlie Parker. She first recorded on the Merritt record label in 1927 with Jesse Stone as pianist and arranger, and launched a solo career in 1935.

In 1944 Julia secured a recording contract with Capitol Records, and a string of R&B hits followed, including "Gotta Gimme Whatcha Got" (#3 R&B, 1946), "Snatch and Grab It" (#1 R&B for 12 weeks, 1947, selling over 500,000 copies), "King Size Papa" (#1 R&B for 9 weeks, 1948), "I Didn't Like It The First Time (The Spinach Song)" (#4 R&B, 1949), and "My Man Stands Out".

As these titles suggest, she became best known for her trademark double entendre songs, or, as she once said, "the songs my mother taught me not to sing". The records were credited to 'Julia Lee and Her Boy Friends', her session musicians including Jay McShann, Vic Dickenson, Benny Carter, Red Norvo, Nappy Lamare, and Red Nichols.

She was married to Frank Duncan, a star catcher and manager of the Negro National League's Kansas City Monarchs. He, like Julia, was a native of Kansas City. Julia frequently performed in all-white nightclubs, and Frank had to sit with the orchestra, pretending to be a musician, in order to see her perform.

Although her hits dried up after 1949, she continued as one of the most popular performers in Kansas City until her death in Kansas City, at the age of 56, from a heart attack


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  • Created by: Hether Pearson Pillman Belusky
  • Added: 21 Apr 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 68710199
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Julia M Lee (13 Oct 1903–8 Dec 1958), Find A Grave Memorial no. 68710199, citing Highland Cemetery, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Hether Pearson Pillman Belusky (contributor 47055925) .