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Bernice Petkere

Composer, Lyricist

(1901 - 2000)

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Bernice Petkere (1901-2000) was only five when she starred in a vaudeville act billed as “Baby Dolls.” She received a scholarship to study voice at the Henshaw Conservatory of Music and taught herself to play piano. She went to work playing piano for the music publishing firm of Waterson, Berlin & Snyder as a teenager, and in 1932 Irving Berlin asked her to write music for the firm.

Petkere’s first song was “Starlight (Help Me Find the One I Love)” which was recorded in 1931 by Bing Crosby. Two of her compositions entered the jazz standards repertoire. “Lullaby of the Leaves,” with lyrics by Joe Young (1932), was picked up by instrumentalists (Tal Farlow), vocalists (Chet Baker), and big bands (Clayton Hamilton) as was “Close Your Eyes” (1933) for which she wrote both words and music. Several of her other songs were popular in their day, and she became known as the “Queen of Tin Pan Alley.”

In the late ‘30s Petkere and her husband moved to California where she scored Ice Follies of 1938, which starred Joan Crawford and James Stewart. Petkere was a member of ASCAP for over 60 years.

- Sandra Burlingame

Complete Tal Farlow

Tal Farlow

Songs for Lovers

Chet Baker

Live at MCG

The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra

Close Your Eyes

Kurt Elling

Close Your Eyes

Johnny Griffin, Horace Parlan

Close Your Eyes

Stacey Kent
Reading and Viewing

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Bernice Petkere (music) Joe Young (words)

Lullaby of the Leaves

Irving Berlin, Inc.

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