Jo Stafford

Jo Stafford

Jo Elizabeth Stafford (November 12, 1917 – July 16, 2008) was an American singer of traditional pop music and occasional actress, whose career spanned four decades from the late 1930s to the early 1960s. She was admired by both critics and the listening public for the purity of her voice and was considered one of the most versatile vocalists of the era. Her 1952 song "You Belong to Me" topped the charts in the United States and United Kingdom, and made her the first woman to have a No 1 on the UK Singles Chart. She is also the winner of a 1961 Grammy Award for an album of comedic interpretations of popular songs produced with her husband, Paul Weston.

Born in Coalinga, California, Stafford made her first musical appearance at the age of twelve. After graduating from high school she joined her two older sisters to form a vocal trio named The Stafford Sisters, who enjoyed moderate success on radio and in film. In 1938 while the sisters were part of the cast of Twentieth Century Fox's production of Alexander's Ragtime Band Stafford met the future members of The Pied Pipers and became the group's lead singer. Following a difficult start, bandleader Tommy Dorsey hired The Pied Pipers in 1939 to perform backup vocals for his orchestra, including work in some early recordings from Frank Sinatra.

In addition to her recordings with the Pied Pipers, Stafford featured in many solo performances for Dorsey, something which led to later success when she left the group in 1944. As the first solo artist signed to Capitol Records, she recorded a series of pop standards throughout the 1940s, before moving to Columbia Records in 1950, where she had some of her biggest hits. Many of her recordings were backed by the orchestra of Paul Weston, whom she married in 1952. In addition to her solo work she also performed several duets with other artists, including Gordon MacRae and Frankie Laine. Her work with the United Service Organizations (USO) giving concerts for soldiers earned her the nickname G.I. Jo. Starting in 1945, Stafford was a regular host of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) radio series The Chesterfield Supper Club and later appeared in a number of television specials in the United States and United Kingdom, including two series titled The Jo Stafford Show, in 1954 and 1961 respectively.

As a way of entertaining party guests Stafford and Weston developed a comedy routine in which they assumed the identity of a bad lounge act named Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, performing humorous and off-key interpretations of well-known songs. The act proved popular with guests and was well-received by the wider public when the couple released an album as the Edwardses in 1957. The Piano Artistry of Jonathan Edwards was followed by a second album in 1960, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris. The latter won Stafford her only Grammy Award, for Best Comedy Album in 1961, and is viewed favorably by critics as the first commercially successful parody album. It also paved the way for later artists of that genre, such as Mrs. Miller. Stafford largely retired as a performer in the mid-1960s, but continued to be involved in the music business for some years after that. She enjoyed a brief resurgence in popularity in the late 1970s when she recorded a cover of the Bee Gees hit "Stayin' Alive" as Darlene Edwards. She won a breach of contract lawsuit against Columbia Records in the early 1990s, and began re-releasing some of her material through Corinthian Records, a label founded by her husband. She died in 2008 in the Century City district of Los Angeles, and is buried with Weston at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Stafford's work in radio, television and music is recognized by three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Read more about Jo StaffordEarly Years, The Pied Pipers, Solo Career, Comedy Performances, Retirement, Death, Discography

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Famous quotes containing the word stafford:

    a doe, a recent killing;
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