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Blakeview: Shirley and Lee


We pay tribute this week to two 1950s New Orleans rhythm and blues greats who would have turned 80 this month: Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee. Known as Shirley and Lee, the two were born 10 days apart in June 1936. The New Orleans natives met when they were children and both sang in their church choir. According to researcher (and Gambit contributor) David Kunian, they were discovered by recording studio owner Cosimo Matassa, who recorded the duo's first single, 1951's "I'm Gone," which was written and produced by Dave Bartholomew. It featured the singing style that would become Shirley and Lee's trademark: Goodman's high-pitched soprano and Lee's baritone voice, sung in a duet style. The pair (who never were romantically involved) went on to write and record three R&B hits before their 20th birthdays: "Feel So Good," "I Feel Good" and the best known, "Let the Good Times Roll," released in 1957. Though Shirley and Lee's success faded in the 1960s, Goodman returned with the disco era hit "Shame, Shame, Shame" in 1974. Lee died two years later; Goodman died in 2005.

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