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Jo Stafford

From Academic Kids

Jo Elizabeth Stafford (born November 12, 1917) is a singer whose career spanned the late 1920s through the early 1960s. Stafford is greatly admired for the purity of her voice and is considered one of the most versatile vocalists of the era.

Stafford was born in Coalinga, California to Grover Cleveland Stafford and Anna York Stafford, a distant cousin of Sergeant Alvin York. Originally, she wanted to become an opera singer and studied voice as a child. However, because of the economic Great Depression, she abandoned that idea and joined her sisters Christine and Pauline in a popular vocal group which performed on Los Angeles radio staton KHJ.

Contents

The Pied Pipers

When her sisters married, the group broke up and Stafford joined a new vocal group, The Pied Pipers. This group consisted of eight members: John Huddleston (who was Stafford's husband at the time), Hal Hooper, Chuck Lowry, Bud Hervey, George Tait, Woody Newbury, and Dick Whittinghill, besides Stafford. The group became very popular, working on local radio and movie soundtracks, and caught the attention of two of Tommy Dorsey's arrangers, Axel Stordahl and Paul Weston.

In 1938, Weston persuaded Dorsey to sign The Pied Pipers for his radio show, and they went to New York for a broadcast date. Dorsey liked them enough to sign them for ten weeks, but after the second broadcast the sponsor heard them and disliked them, firing the group. They stayed in New York for three months, but landed only a single job that paid them just $3.60 each, though they did record four sides for RCA Victor Records.

Half the members of he Pied Pipers Returning to Los Angeles, but they had a difficult time trying to make a living until they got an offer from Dorsey to join his big band 1939. This led to success for the whole group, but especially for Stafford, who was also featured in solo performances. The group also backed Frank Sinatra in some of his early recordings.

In 1942, the group had an argument with Dorsey and left, but in 1943 it became one of the first groups signed to Johnny Mercer's new label, Capitol Records. Capitol's music director was the same Paul Weston who had been instrumental in introducing Stafford to Dorsey. The couple married in 1952.

Solo career

In 1944, Stafford left the Pied Pipers to go solo, doing a lot of performances for military personnel, thus acquiring the nickname "GI Jo." In 1950, she left Capitol for Columbia Records, returning to Capitol in 1961. At Columbia, she was the first recording artist to sell twenty-five million records. In 1948 Stafford and Gordon MacRae had a million-seller with their version of "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart" and in 1949 repeated their success with "My Happiness".

In 1966, Stafford went into semi-retirement, retiring completely from the music business in 1975 except for one appearance in 1990 to honor Sinatra.

She had two husbands, John Huddleston (of the original Pied Pipers) and Weston, the latter of whom was also her orchestra leader for most of her career. By Weston she had two children, Tim and Amy.

In addition to the records she made in her own name, Stafford also made comedy records as Cinderella G. Stump (with Red Ingle and the Natural Seven) and Darlene Edwards (with Paul Weston using the name Jonathan Edwards).

Samples

Notable songs

Solo

with Gordon MacRae

with Johnny Mercer

  • Candy

External links

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