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Gilbert, Peggy (1905-2007) | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Gilbert, Peggy (1905-2007)
Variant Name: Margaret Gilbert

Historical Note:

Peggy Gilbert (1905-2007) was a saxophonist and band leader. From the 1930s through 1996 she led several all-girl orchestras and bands. An advocate for women musicians, she arranged for bookings and contracts and was an active member in Local 47 of the Musicians' Union.

After playing with an all-girl band, Boots and Her Buddies, in the 1930s, Gilbert formed her own band in 1933 which played in Honolulu. She changed the name of her musical groups frequently. They played in Hollywood films and in clubs such as the Coconut Grove, Garden of Allah, and in 1937, Hollywood's Second "Swing Concert" at The Palomar in Los Angeles. Her band played on radio and toured with the USO during the 1940s, and from 1949 to 1970 she worked at Local 47 as a secretary.

After retiring, Gilbert continued to serve on Local 47's board of directors and wrote a column called "Tuning in on Femme Musicians" for the union's monthly publication, The Overture. In 1974, at the age of 69, she formed a new band, the Dixie Belles with whom she performed at numerous events and jazz festivals, including an appearance on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1981 and two appearances on episodes of The Golden Girls in 1982 and 1988. She stopped performing in 1996 and died at the age of 102 in 2007.

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