Jo Elizabeth Stafford (November 12, 1917 – July 16, 2008) was an American traditional pop music singer and occasional actress, whose career spanned five decades from the late 1930s to the early 1980s. Admired for the purity of her voice, she originally underwent classical training to become an opera singer before following a career in popular music, and by 1955 had achieved more worldwide record sales than any other female artist. Her 1952 song "You Belong to Me" topped the charts in the United States and United Kingdom, the record becoming the first by a female artist to reach number one on the UK Singles Chart.
Born in Coalinga, California, Stafford made her first musical appearance at age 12. While still at high school, she joined her two older sisters to form a vocal trio named the Stafford Sisters, who found 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. Bandleader Tommy Dorsey hired them in 1939 to perform back-up vocals for his orchestra.
In addition to her recordings with the Pied Pipers, Stafford featured in solo performances for Dorsey. After leaving the group in 1944, she recorded a series of pop standards for Capitol Records and Columbia Records. Many of her recordings were backed by the orchestra of Paul Weston. She also performed duets with Gordon MacRae and Frankie Laine. Her work with the United Service Organizations giving concerts for soldiers during World War II 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 television specials—including two series called The Jo Stafford Show, in 1954 in the U.S. and in 1961 in the U.K.
Stafford married twice, first in 1937 to musician John Huddleston (the couple divorced in 1943), then in 1952 to Paul Weston, with whom she had two children. Weston and she developed a comedy routine in which they assumed the identity of an incompetent lounge act named Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, parodying well-known songs. The act proved popular at parties and among the wider public when the couple released an album as the Edwardses in 1957. In 1961, the album Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris won Stafford her only Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album, and was the first commercially successful parody album. Stafford largely retired as a performer in the mid-1960s, but continued in the music business. She had a brief resurgence in popularity in the late 1970s when she recorded a cover of the Bee Gees hit, "Stayin' Alive" as Darlene Edwards. In the 1990s, she began re-releasing some of her material through Corinthian Records, a label founded by Weston. She died in 2008 in Century City, Los Angeles, and is interred with Weston at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City. Her work in radio, television, and music is recognized by three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Birth and Death Data: Born November 12th, 1917 (Coalinga), Died July 13th, 2008 (Los Angeles)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1941 - 1968
Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||BS-060627||10-in.||2/7/1941||Whatcha know Joe?||The Pied Pipers ; Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo and mixed vocal ensemble||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-060629||10-in.||2/7/1941||Little man with a candy cigar||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-060908||10-in.||2/17/1941||Yes indeed!||Sy Oliver ; Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female-male vocal duet||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-066924||10-in.||7/15/1941||Swingin' on nothin'||Sy Oliver ; Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female-male vocal duet||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-067916||10-in.||9/18/1941||Who can I turn to?||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-067936||10-in.||9/26/1941||It isn't a dream any more||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-067937||10-in.||9/26/1941||Embraceable you||The Pied Pipers ; Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo and mixed vocal ensemble||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-075401||10-in.||7/1/1942||He's my guy (Nobody knows better than I)||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-075405||10-in.||7/2/1942||Manhattan serenade||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo and trombone quartet (take 1); with female vocal solo and trombone solo (take 2)||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-075408||10-in.||7/2/1942||A boy in khaki—a girl in lace||Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Victor||BS-075409||10-in.||7/2/1942||You took my love||Jo Stafford ; Tommy Dorsey Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with female vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO4554||7/18/1951||Shrimp boats||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10046||12/10/1951||A-round the corner||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10198||7/27/1952||Come rain or come shine||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10204||6/24/1952||You belong to me||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10260||7/20/1952||Jambalaya||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10290||9/5/1952||All the things you are||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10316||10/10/1952||Keep it a secret||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10584||8/8/1953||Little man with a candy cigar||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO10660||11/27/1953||Make love to me||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO33338||February 1955||St. Louis blues||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO40902||8/1/1958||I'll be seeing you||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Columbia||RHCO40941||8/29/1958||You'll never know||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120331||4/14/1955||Winter weather||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120332||4/29/1955||Winter wonderland||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120333||4/23/1956||Sleigh ride||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120334||4/14/1955||Happy holiday||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120335||4/29/1955||The Christmas song||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120336||4/29/1955||'Twas the night before Christmas||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120338||5/13/1955||O come, O come Emmanuel||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120339||5/16/1955||O little town of Bethlehem||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120340||5/16/1955||Silent night, Holy night||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120492||7/5/1968||Let it snow! Let it snow!||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||120726||2/19/1952||Spring is here||Paul Weston Orchestra ; Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121070||1/18/1952||September in the rain||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121071||8/8/1958||It could happen to you||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121072||9/21/1955||As I love you||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121073||3/9/1955||I cover the waterfront||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121074||12/26/1957||Love for sale||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121075||12/26/1957||Old devil moon||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121076||Teach me tonight||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121077||12/18/1953||Don't get around much anymore||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121078||9/12/1952||Night and day||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||121079||2/20/1959||Blues in the night||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122089||1/18/1952||I'm in the mood for love||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122090||2/15/1952||Blue moon||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122092||8/1/1958||I should care||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122093||6/27/1952||Embraceable you||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122094||9/26/1952||They say it's wonderful||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122095||3/9/1955||Young and foolish||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122096||12/12/1951||Don't worry 'bout me||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122097||8/8/1958||I fall in love too easily||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
|Decca||122098||9/5/1952||All the things you are||Jo Stafford||vocalist|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Stafford, Jo," accessed March 7, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103383.
Stafford, Jo. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 7, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103383.
"Stafford, Jo." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 7 March 2021.
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