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.
One of the most important female vocalists of all time, Jo Stafford is probably best remembered today for her WWII recordings. She is often called ''America's Most Versatile Singer'' for the wide-range of material she performed.
Born in California on November 12, 1917, Jo studied classical vocal as a youth and had aspirations of becoming an operatic singer. The arrival of the Great Depression waylaid her plans, and she joined her two older sisters, Pauline and Christine, as part of a popular music trio, the Stafford Sisters. They were featured in their own regular broadcast on Los Angeles radio
Her sisters' marriages eventually broke up the act, and Jo found work with a newly-formed vocal group, the Pied Pipers. The octet's stylish harmonies proved popular, and they began to perform on local radio and on Hollywood soundtracks. They soon attracted the attention of Tommy Dorsey arrangers Paul Weston and Axel Stordahl.
In 1938 Weston persuaded Dorsey to give the Pied Pipers a spot on the Raleigh-Kool Show, a popular radio program. All eight members piled into two cars and drove to New York, with no promise of work other than one shot on the radio. The show went well though, and they were signed to appear for ten weeks. Just as everything seemed to be going their way, however, disaster struck. During their second program the sponsor heard them for the first time, didn't like them, and promptly fired them. The Pipers remained in New York for seven more months, landing only one job the whole time from which they made $3.60 each, though they did record four sides for RCA Victor during their stay.
Returning to Los Angeles the group lost four members to regular jobs on the way. The remaining four struggled to make a living and were on the verge of calling it quits when, in 1939, they received an offer from Dorsey to join his orchestra. With Dorsey the Pipers finally found success. Jo was featured solo on several occasions, and the group backed up Frank Sinatra on many of his early numbers.
The Pied Pipers remained with Dorsey until Thanksgiving Day 1942, when Dorsey exploded at one of the members, igniting an argument with the whole group, who promptly quit. They were immediately hired by three radio stations. The following year they were signed by Johnny Mercer to his newly-formed label, Capitol Records. At Capitol, Jo once again worked with Paul Weston, who was the label's music director at the time. The two formed a strong friendship that eventually blossomed into marriage in 1952.
In 1944 Jo left the Pied Pipers to pursue her own solo career. Her recordings during WWII were among the most popular with American servicemen, resulting in her being nicknamed ''G.I. Jo.'' In 1950 she moved from Capitol to CBS, where she continued her successful recording career until she returned to Capitol in 1961 for a six-album deal. She also starred in her own television programs in both the U.S. and Britain. Together with her husband she recorded several albums under the names of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. The Edwards were a parody of a bad lounge act and won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Jo semi-retired in 1966 and left the music business completely in 1975, making only one more public appearance, in 1990, to honor Frank Sinatra. Stafford won a breach-of-contract lawsuit against her former record label, Columbia, in the early 1990s. Due to a clause in her contract regarding the payment of royalties, she secured the rights to all of the recordings she made with the company, including those made as Jonathan and Darlene Edwards. Following the lawsuit, Stafford, along with son Tim, reactivated the Corinthian Records label, which began life as a religious label that the devout Paul Weston had started.
In 1996, Paul Weston died of natural causes.Stafford continued to operate Corinthian Records. In 2006, she donated the couple's library to the University of Arizona. The collection includes music arrangements for themselves or other artists, as well as some personal and professional items such as photographs, business correspondence and recordings. Stafford was inducted into the Big Band Academy of America's Golden Bandstand in April 2007.
Stafford began suffering from congestive heart failure in October 2007, from which she died on July 16, 2008. She was interred with her husband Paul Weston at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City.
(Info from Wikipedia & others )
Not many videos about but I did find this one from circa 1961.