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(The following is the verbatim content of a typewritten
Terrea Lea National Fan Club handout published circa 1964.)
Perhaps more than any other performer, Terrea Lea can take credit for bringing folk music to West Coast audiences. Long before Hootenanny was the order of the day she was singing folk songs and playing the then dozen available folk albums to audiences through her own radio and television shows and, as a guest artist on many top-rated programs.
More dedicated to the advancement of an art form rather than preserving one, Terrea herself is a perfect example of a fad much too exciting to be a passing fancy - of a fad that has become a permanent and glowing fixture on the musical scene. Terrea's music making, her artistry, her exciting personality and warm and contagious singing style have combined to firmly establish her in the hearts of audiences as a major and unique performer.
For over six years she has been providing the best that folk music has to offer at The Garret, in West Hollywood. On stage Opening Night at The Garret, and now more than six years later, combining extraordinary guitar work with her rich, vibrant voice, she is still capturing new listeners and keeping the old ones coming back. Thus having built a tremendous following.
Terrea hails from Liberty Landing, Missouri, the jumping off point near Independence where the wagon trains headed West, and what town name could sound more like the birthplace of one of America's great artists. It's also the place where Jesse and Frank James pulled the first daylight bank robbery, and where later Jesse James escaped from the Clay County Courthouse, in Liberty.
Born June 6th (Gemini), she's an only child, the daughter of a devoted Scotch-Irish, English and (a bit of) American Indian mother, Elizabeth, who encouraged her musical pursuits, and of her father, Everett, an electrical contractor of German descent. She was a Girl Scout and the President of her high school sorority. She won the National Music Contest for "contralto solo" in Liberty High School. And she played the flute and piccolo in the Band.
Music became her main interest when she turned to formal music training at William Jewell College. As a result of music she won a scholarship to Drake University in Iowa. Her mentors tried desperately to steer her on a classical career (obviously without success). She came to Los Angeles and appeared in light operas, films, and did a great deal of studio work, dubbing the singing voices for Larraine Day, Donna Reed, Lois Smith, and Joan Hackett, among others. And she became a fairly successful pop singer.
She was rather unhappy at this kind of work. It gave her too little gratification as a performer and artist. Shortly after reaching a degree of success as a popular singer and actress in Hollywood, her mother gave her a guitar for her birthday and it seemed Terrea's proper niche in show business was found.
It was during this time that Terrea discovered an immense satisfaction in singing folk material and started to build up a repertoire of folk songs both old and new, not as one of the defenders of the musical boredom that for so long had passed for folk music, but as a singer of folk tunes with a new approach, updated for present-day consumption. This she accomplished through tedious long hours of library and other research work. During the period when she developed this store of folk music authenticity there was next to nothing on the subject readily available as there is today. Her work was rewarded with the solid background of American lore and heritage. Today her repertoire includes more than 400 songs from all over the world.
Terrea has not just confined herself to introducing new and lovely songs to her audiences. She has also been responsible for introducing and bringing several exciting and talented performers to the attention of good-music enthusiasts.
Among the many artists she has introduced are the RCA recording stars, The Womenfolk, and The Villagers, Gale Garnett, Les Baxter's Balladeers, and others.
As Bud Dashiell, of Bud and Travis, says, "She is generally looked upon with 'special regard' by people in the field." Perhaps this explains why most of the top folk acts, when in Los Angeles, head for The Garret to catch one of her sets.
Terrea lives in a medium large white Spanish-style house on a quiet side street in Hollywood. The abode has great charm and reflects her many interests. There's a quaint fish pond in the front patio where Shane, a female German shepherd, or Andre, a male chocolate poodle, are apt to be watching the slithering goldfish.
The color scheme of the interior is blue and white with antique gold finishes, everything being set off by the magnificent Marie Antoinette chandelier in the living room. Above the black slate fireplace hangs one of Tony Mafia's lovely oil paintings. Terrea has a collection of clown paintings and her favorite is "Roy" by Vern, which hangs in the entrance to the living room, above a century old pewter coffee service. She likes comfortable furniture along the Danish, Spanish or Italian lines, and some of these pieces accent the various rooms with the air of gracious living. Her king sized bed is covered by a pale gold spread to coordinate with the orchid carpets and antique white shutters.
To relax she plays piano by the hour, reads (often voraciously devouring everything she can find about a specific historical character who's piqued her interest after seeing a particularly exciting film), or listens to semi-popular and semi-classical records, expecially piano concertos and motion picture theme music on her stereophonic tape recorder and record player. She has a large collection of albums that very from blues to opera. She doesn't like entire operas but loves to listen to the portions that please her, particularly the Puccini arias. The rest of the time, "I just sit and watch the fish", (while working diligently on more new folk songs), play chess ("I collect chessmen"), bicycling, and collecting old Greek coins to make into medallions.
She says she has no real favorites in songs and refuses to pick any favorite among the folk field. (Although she admits Harry Belafonte, who started in the folk field at the same time, is one of her favorite performers along with Bud and Travis.
Terrea drives a black Le Mans convertible with black leather upholstery and black tires because she thinks whitewalls are not conservative enough.
Terrea has a very keen sense of usually dry humor. Off stage she is warm, conservative, interested in everyone and everything. Her moments of outgoing humor are nominally part of her professional personality. She is actually shy and modest. She doesn't like being "on" and she hates to be called "Miss Lea".
She likes to cook, especially barbecued foods. And her favorite food is a New York steak. She likes casual clothes, Abano perfume, long stemmed red roses, golf, poker, Nichols and May, the funnies, Peanuts, ("and the Akron ads"). Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", Marcia Davenport's "Of Lena Geyer", and Lloyd Douglas' "The Robe", The Carmel-Monterey area, and the colour, Blue. If she ever decided to retire from music and folk-singing she thinks she would like to do so by opening a guest ranch in northern California, and "raise poodles".
Terrea also likes paintings and drawings of sad, tramp clowns, the Dodgers, refinishing furniture, puppies, Cezanne, champagne, fine woods, mugs, almond Hersheys, and the movies.
She's a real movie fan and sees most any type of film. She's not quite sold on foreign films, preferring American productions. ("Anything starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Peter O'Toole or Audrey Hepburn.")
Alcohol doesn't interest her and she smokes very little. When she wants to be sociable she lights up an Alpine. Terrea enjoys watching television but has little time for it as she works six nights a week performing for her great following at The Garret. "That leaves time for the News and 'Leave It to Beaver', I guess."
She's interested in foreign languages only because she'd like to travel but does not care to study one just to be studying. "But before I see Europe I want to see all of the United States," she says.
The famous people she's most admired are Jeanne d'Arc, Kirsten Flagstad, Chopin, Franz Liszt, Rubinstein, and Eileen Farrell.
She's never had and operation or been seriously ill or hospitalized. But she's sung frequently in Veterans' hospitals both in wards and in the theatres.
Her thinking in regards to money is that it's a wonderful necessity but "you must rule it instead of letting it rule you." If she ever got a windfall she'd "probably put it in the bank, and maybe go out and buy a new poodle."
Terrea has a twelve string guitar and two classical Rodriguez instruments. They are her most prized possessions and the last one was specially dedicated to her by Rodriguez. Her favorite guitarist is Larindo Almeda. She has been collaborating on writing songs. For many years people have asked why she hasn't written songs. Recently it came about on its own volition and she's now including some of them in her performances.
She hasn't many dislikes but what she doesn't like, she strongly doesn't like: real spicy foods, the color puce, anyone tapping on her seat in a theatre, noisy gum chewers, licorice, escargots, hats, broaches, entire operas, "Miss Lea", Communism, and Americans who are pro-communistic.
Her favorite dates are of the Grant-O'Toole type. He must be a good conversationalist, and "since I don't care for hiking in the hills", must prefer the indoors to outdoors activity. For her pleasure she likes dates that include good dining, the theatre, concerts, movies or dancing.
Terrea is a student of Unity and attends Dr. Wilson's Christ Church Unity. She often sings at the church, and to her religion is a personal, quiet matter.
About modern youth she holds a very good impression. "They're underestimated. Much corruption of youth can be contributed to lack of proper example from adults. At The Garret they are usually a better audience to perform for, as opposed to some adults. They show respect. By adults showing a positive attitude towards youth, giving them responsibility, they would undoubtedly meet it. I'm not the least bit worried about the future when the United States is put into the hands of our youth of today."
Terrea Lea's list of professional credits is extensive. In the area of television she played a year on Station KCOP with a weekly fifteen minute Terrea Lea Show, and 36 weeks on the same station with a fifteen minute daily program. For thirteen weeks she did a weekly half hour Terrea Lea Show on Station KABC, and for 26 did a five minute daily Terrea Lea Show on KNBC.
Besides her own shows she appeared as a regular on the Bill Stulla Show, and the Red Rowe Show. For a year she appeared twice weekly on the Betty White Show, and for two and a half years was a regular on each program on the Tex Williams Show.
She has appeared as a guest on "This Is Your Life", "Ding Dong School", "The Bill Bailey Show", Premiere '60, Alcoa Theatre - "Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks", Twilight Zone - "Jess Belle", The Richard Boone Show - "All the Comforts of Home", Channing - "A Rich and Famous Folksinger Like Me", The All Night Show with Joe and Betty Karbo, Lloyd Thaxton Show, Al Jarvis Show, Panorama Pacific and Educational programs on Folk Music for the Board of Education.
Most recently she has made multiple appearances on both the Saturday night Jack Barry Show, and on The Folk World of Jimmy Rogers program, singing such favorites of her audiences as "It Was a Very Good Year", "Golden Apples of the Sun", and "Julie Ann".
The Terrea Lea Show on radio played for three years on NBC for fifteen minutes twice weekly, and for a nightly half hour for a year and a half on KABC radio. It was also carried by the Armed Forces Radio network and through the years many of the servicemen who'd heard her songs while serving in far corners of the world have stopped at The Garret to her her sing to them in person. The Terrea Lea Show played for a half hour nightly for 26 weeks in the San Francisco area over Station KYA, and for 26 weeks, she did a fifteen minute program three times weekly over Station KXLA.
Also on radio, she was a regular for three years on the Tex Williams Show, and a regular on the American Barn Dance program and the Harry Babbitt Show. Guest appearances included Nightbeat, the Steve Allen Show, Suspense Theatre, NBC Theatre, the Joe Dolen Show and the CBS Lucky Strike Show.
On record she has done a series of transcriptions for Capitol Records, two sides for Coral and six sides for Intro Records. Her albums include "Terrea Lea and Her Singing Guitar" on HiFi, "Terrea Lea Folk Songs and Ballads" on ABC Paramount label, "Terrea Lea At The Garret" on Valon and "Les Baxter's Balladeers" on the Reprise label.
Terrea starred in nightclub appearances at The Hootenanny Club (with Bud and Travis), The Chi Chi in San Diego, and at Johnny Walsh's Deauville Club on the Sunset Strip, besides over six years at The Garret in West Hollywood.
She was featured in "Bewitched," starring Phyllis Thaxter and Edmund Gwynn, and a number of other motion pictures.
Her concert appearances include the Greek Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, UCLA, Pasadena City College, about a dozen high schools in the Los Angeles area and with Jimmy Rodgers at the Imperial Valley California State Fair.
Terrea Lea's warm and contagious personality, her gracious handling of audiences, and her offering of the finest folk music available have gained her the respect and admiration of the young, the new adult, and all members of the family. She is a credit to Show Business, a consummate artist.
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Page last updated: November 29, 2003