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Peggy I. Coburn

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July 13, 1922 - August 26, 2015 Peggy I. Coburn, a noted and well-reviewed singer with a Juilliard-trained contralto voice and numerous soloist appearances at the Hollywood Bowl including the yearly Rogers and Hammerstein summer music series and many Easter sunrise services, Carnegie Hall, Constitution Hall, and the Mormon Tabernacle, died in Los Angeles on August 26, 2015 at the age of 93. Martin Bernheimer, the Los Angeles Times entertainment critic, wrote after one Hollywood Bowl appearance that "listening to Peggy Coburn sing is like living beyond your means," and after another Bowl appearance, "Peggy Coburn's voice is like a fountain of flowing gold." Coburn's entire career was music-from the time she won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in the 1950's, through undergraduate and graduate degrees on full scholarship from the Juilliard School of Music in New York, singing as soloist at Saint Bartholomew Church and Radio City Music Hall in New York City and later at the Hollywood Congregational Church where her husband of 39 years, William J. (Bill) Coburn was musical director for many years (he died in 1985), touring Southeast Asia (as soloist, accompanied by her pianist husband, Bill) for the USO, and Europe, Canada, and the United States as a lounge singer, and when she was in her seventies and early eighties, performing as a lounge singer ("Miss Sunshine") at Paoli's Restaurant in Woodland Hills, California. She taught both voice and piano to celebrities and children alike, including organizing annual recitals for her students, over a period exceeding 60 years-until just a few months before her death. Coburn's parents were officers (ministers) with the Salvation Army, and as a child, she was discovered by a voice teacher, Elizabeth van Winkle, at an "open air" Salvation Army meeting in Rochester, NY. Van Winkle accepted her as a student, despite that the young child-singer was unable to pay for her lessons. In her later life, Coburn often gave free lessons to children who could not afford them. Coburn was born on July 13, 1922 at Clearfield Pennsylvania to Sr. Major Leslie E. Watson and Gertrude Rose Edna (DeLong) Watson. She is survived by her son, Dr. William J. Coburn, Agoura Hills; grandson William J. Coburn III and his wife, Alicia Coburn, San Luis Obispo; brother, Edward E. Watson, St. Augustine, Florida; nephew Theodore (Ted) Ball, retired LAPD senior homicide detective and his wife Katharine Diemert, Calabasas; nephew Mark E. Watson, Thousand Oaks; niece Janie Irene (Ball) Lehman and her husband Rodney Lehman, Erie, Pennsylvania. Coburn was also a close friend to the family of Casey Kasem: Linda Myers Kasem and her husband, Robert Naylor, Encino; Kerri Kasem, Sherman Oaks, Julie Kasem Aboulhosn and her husband, Jamil Aboulhosn, Northridge, and Mike Kasem, Singapore (Kerri, Mike, and Julie, her "special" grandchildren).
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 8 to Sept. 9, 2015
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