Geri Peters, a well-known Buffalo jazz singer and retired beauty salon owner, died Saturday (Feb. 10, 2001) in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a brief illness. She was 75.
A Buffalo native, she was well known as a jazz singer in the Buffalo area and in Canada for more than 40 years. She also operated her own hair salon, Jeri's House of Beauty, on Colvin Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, from the late 1950s until 1992, when she retired.
Known for her husky contralto voice, Ms. Peters began singing at open mike sessions in Buffalo jazz clubs some 40 years ago and gradually evolved into a professional singer. In the latter part of her career, she appeared regularly at the Anchor Bar with several jazz ensembles, including "Magnitude."
Her first professional appearance was with Pat Bocotto in the Rendezvous Room in the Hotel Statler. Later, she played such former Buffalo spots as the Phil Mascotto Club, Kenwood, Boffo's, Town Casino, Cloister, Royal Arms and the Clarendon.
She also sang with Jonah Jones and Cozy Cole and appeared in Las Vegas at the Aladdin and in New York City at Pete Kelly's.
In Canada, Ms. Peters performed with Bill Stevens' Group in St. Catharines and Dr. Jazz in Toronto. At one time, she sang with big bands on the Canadiana, the tour boat that traveled between Buffalo and Crystal Beach.
Ms. Peters loved to belt out tunes made popular by such jazz greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Williams. A highlight of her career was meeting Fitzgerald.
Her most requested songs included "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Ain't Misbehavin' " and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."
She enjoyed singing at outdoor jazz festivals in Buffalo and performed several times on the annual Variety Club Telethon.
Ms. Peters described her music as "the kind of jazz I can sing from the heart -- the kind that appeals to all generations since it expresses the full range of human experience."
She never took a voice lesson and never rehearsed before a performance.
Ms. Peters also brought her music into her beauty shop, serenading her customers, many of whom became friends, with a choice of jazz or blues songs.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in Lester H. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 3290 Delaware Ave., Town of Tonawanda. Burial will be in Elmlawn Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda.