January 17, 1905- February 12, 2007
Performing on saxophones, clarinet, violin, vibes, plus singing, arranging, and contracting for women musicians, Peggy Gilbert (1905-2007) has been a one-woman support network and staunch advocate for women since the 1920s. She performed publicly on the tenor saxophone for more than 80 years and has inspired and mentored several generations of musicians. She worked full time, part time and as a volunteer at Local 47, beginning in the early 1940, when she helped place men musicians into military bands at the beginning of World War II by working the phones at Local 47, then located on
In 1974, at the age of 69, she started a new all-girl band, The Dixie Belles, to play a benefit concert for a well-known Dixieland player who was ill. The band clicked at the first rehearsal and they continued to play until the mid 1990s. The group, including Marnie Wells (1915-2005, trumpet and string bass); Natalie Robin (1919-1998, saxophones, clarinets, and oboe); Georgia Shilling (piano); Jerrie Thill (drums and vocals); Pearl Powers (1917-2005, bass). The band's original trombone player was Naomi Preble (1904-1995); the original bass player was Karen Donley, and were all Life Members of Local 47.
The Dixie Belles performed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson September 19, 1981, and were also featured in episodes of “L.A.'s PM Magazine,” “The Ellen Show,” “Madame's Place,” “Father Murphy,” “Darhma and Greg”, “Married With Children,” “Home Improvement,” and “The Golden Girls.” They appeared at big jazz festivals in
In her eighties and nineties, Peggy appeared in commercials for Coca-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken,
My biography of Peggy, Peggy Gilbert and Her All-Girl Band is available from Scarecrow Press and through Amazon among other booksellers.