Julia Lee (October 31, 1902 - December 8, 1958) was
an American blues and dirty blues musician.
Born in Boonville, Missouri, Lee 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 she 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.
Although her hits dried up after 1949, she continued as one of the most
popular performers in Kansas City until her death in San Diego,
California, at the age of 56, from a heart attack.