Sun, Feb. 23

Katie Lee to perform at Poets Gathering<br>Jerome entertainer's book of poetry in fifth printing

Katie Lee posed for publicity photos for the re-release of her book and CD of the same title, "Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle." A Jerome resident of more than 32 years, Lee is a world-known actress, writer and folk singer. She will perform this weekend at the Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott.

What Lee hadn't figured on was the continuing popularity of her 1976 book "Ten Thousand Goddam Cattle," a history of the American cowboy in song, story and verse. The book went through its fifth printing in 2001.

She also has a new CD being released before Christmas. Actually, it isn't the album's first time around, either. The album, with the same name as the book, was first released as an LP, and then it was put together as a 70-minute cassette. Now it is coming back as a double CD with seven new songs added and a 26-page booklet of the music's history.

Lee's interest in cowboys and cattle came naturally.

"I was born and raised in Tucson," she said. "I always lived way out of town, on ranch property. But I didn't live on a ranch. My parents were architects and designers of homes. We always lived in the first home of a new sub-division."

She said the poems, songs and stories in the book are about her friends, neighbors and other people she came to know.

"I'd sit in the riverbeds around a campfire at night with cowboys and sing," Lee said.

After the initial success of the book, Lee decided to move on artistically.

"Once I said what I wanted to say, I went back to my nature roots," she said. "I was into the cowboy thing from 1976 to 1994. That's almost 20 years. That's giving it a shot.

"I went back to my river," she said. "That has always meant more to me than most human beings."

Her river is the Colorado River, especially the part of it that lies deep below Lake Powell. She still dreams of seeing the river turned free. She misses Glen Canyon and believes it was a crime to flood such a wild and beautiful canyon.

"We've got a big move on to change the name of Lake Powell to Glen Canyon Reservoir," she said.

Lee has another book coming out soon, but it hasn't been titled yet. She said it contains essays and stories about her mother, the slick-rock desert and the Colorado Plateau, among other topics.

Writing, however, is only part of Lee's creative background. Now somewhere in her 80s, she has enjoyed a long career as an entertainer. She went to Hollywood in 1948.

"I went there to be a movie star," she said. She did, in fact, make about five movies and acted in early television shows. Folk singer Burl Ives told Lee to get out of Hollywood, and he introduced her to his publicist and agent. She left Hollywood in 1954 and went on the road.

Lee gained a reputation as one of the top folk singers in America, recording many albums with titles such as Life is Just a Bed of Neuroses, Folk Songs of the Colorado River, and Loves Little Sisters. She refers to those years as her time on the Great American Gin Mill Circuit.

"I was on the road for 11 years straight," Lee said. In addition to frequent recording sessions, she performed in coffee houses and hotels from Miami to San Francisco.

Lee has lived in Jerome for 32 years. She saw it for the first time in 1936 when she was 16 years old while traveling from the Grand Canyon with her father.

"I didn't think much about it, then," she said.

Later, in the 1950s while she was doing river trips on the Colorado River, she spent summers at Mystery Ranch in Sedona.

"I'd go down to Oak Creek and write songs," she said.

When she left Sedona, Lee was on her way to Prescott to look for a place to live. She said the rent was too high in Sedona. She stopped in Jerome on her way to Prescott. A friend told her about a home that she could rent for $90 a month.

She has been in Jerome ever since.

If You Go

What: Cowboy Poets Gathering

Where: Prescott

When: Saturday, Aug. 16 (Katie Lee performs at Sharlot Hall Museum at noon Saturday.

Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event