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Jo Stafford.Volume 11953 (Audio - Recital)
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Jo Stafford was born in Coalinga, California in 1917
Stafford's first public singing appearance came in Long Beach, where the family lived when she was 12. She sang "Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms", a Stafford family sentimental favorite.
Her second was far more dramatic. A student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School with the lead in the school musical, she was on stage rehearsing when a 1933 earthquake hit, destroying the school. Originally, she wanted to become an opera singer and studied voice as a child. However, because of the Great Depression, she abandoned that idea and joined her sisters Christine and Pauline in a popular vocal group, "The Stafford Sisters", which performed on Los Angeles radio station KHJ. The sisters got their start on KNX as part of The Singing Crockett Family of Kentucky program when Jo was 18.
The sisters managed to find work in the film industry as backup vocalists, and Jo went straight from her high school graduation into working on film soundtracks.
The Stafford Sisters made their first recording with Louis Prima in 1936.
In 1937 she worked behind the scenes with Fred Astaire on the soundtrack of A Damsel in Distress, while subsequently creating the arrangements and, along with her sisters, the backing vocals for "Nice Work If You Can Get It". She claimed that her arrangement had to be adapted as Astaire had difficulty with some of the syncopation, in her words: "The man with the syncopated shoes couldn't do the syncopated notes".
By 1938, they were involved in the Twentieth Century Fox production of Alexander's Ragtime Band. The studio brought in many vocal groups to work on the film, among them were The Four Esquires, The Rhythm Kings and The King Sisters. With plenty of time between takes, the various groups sang and socialized while waiting to be called to the set. It soon worked out that The Four Esquires and The Rhythm Kings became a new vocal group, The Pied Pipers, which Stafford joined.
This group consisted of eight members including Stafford: John Huddleston (who was Stafford's husband from 1941 until their divorce in 1943), Hal Hooper, Chuck Lowry, Bud Hervey, George Tait, Woody Newbury, and Dick Whittinghill. As the Pied Pipers, they worked on local radio and movie soundtracks.
When Alyce and Yvonne King had a party for their boyfriends' visit to Los Angeles, the Pied Pipers were invited, speedily eating all of the party's food. The King Sisters' boyfriends were Tommy Dorsey's arrangers Axel Stordahl and Paul Weston, who became interested in the group after meeting them there.
After Weston persuaded Dorsey to audition the group in 1938, the eight drove cross-country to New York together for the chance. 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.
The Pied Pipers returned to Los Angeles. Soon after getting home, Stafford received a phone call from Dorsey, saying he could use the group, but four members of it only. Half of the group, including their only female vocalist, arrived in Chicago in 1939; this led to success, 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. By this time, it was successful enough in its own right; The Pied Pipers appeared on the radio shows of Sinatra, Bob Crosby and Johnny Mercer. It became one of the first groups signed to Johnny Mercer's new label, Capitol Records. Paul Weston was Capitol's music director; he had left Tommy Dorsey's band to work with Dinah Shore shortly after Dorsey re-hired the smaller version of the Pied Pipers.
In 1944, Stafford left the Pied Pipers to go solo. Her tenure with the USO, in which she gave countless performances for soldiers stationed in the US, led to her acquiring the nickname "G.I. Jo."
On returning from the Pacific theater, a veteran told Stafford that the Japanese would play her records on loudspeakers in an attempt to make the US troops homesick enough to surrender; she personally replied to all letters she received from servicemen.
Beginning in late 1945, she hosted the Tuesday and Thursday broadcasts of an NBC musical variety radio program — The Chesterfield Supper Club. Stafford moved from New York to California in November 1946, but continued to host Chesterfield Supper Club from Hollywood.
She also had her own radio show which went on the air later on Tuesday nights when she joined the "Supper Club".
In 1948, she cut her "Supper Club" appearances to once a week (Tuesdays), with Peggy Lee becoming the host of the Thursday broadcasts. During her time with Chesterfield Supper Club, she remembered and revisited some of the folk music she had heard and enjoyed as a child. Paul Weston, who was the conductor of her "Supper Club" broadcasts, suggested using some of them on the program. With the rediscovery of the folk tunes came an interest in folklore; Stafford established a prize which was awarded to the best collection of American folklore submitted by a college student. The awards were handled by the American Folklore Society.
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". Stafford also recorded the "Whispering Hope" of her childhood memories with MacRae in the same year.
Stafford began hosting a weekly Radio Luxembourg radio program in 1950, recording the voice portions of the shows in Hollywood. She contributed her disk jockey talents without pay. At the time, she was also hosting Club 15 for CBS radio, sharing those duties with Bob Crosby much as was done with Perry Como on Chesterfield Supper Club.
By 1951, Stafford was also doing weekly radio work for Voice of America. Collier's magazine published an article about the program in its April 21, 1951 issue entitled: Jo Stafford: Her Songs Upset Joe Stalin; this earned Stafford the wrath of the Communist newspaper, the Daily Worker. The newspaper published a column critical of Stafford and VOA.
In 1954, James Conkling, president of Columbia Records, presented Stafford with a diamond-studded plaque to mark the sale of 25 million of her records.
In the 1950s, she had a string of popular hits with Frankie Laine, six of which charted; their duet of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" making the top ten in 1951. It was also at this time that Stafford scored her best known hits with huge records like "Jambalaya," "Shrimp Boats," "Make Love to Me," and "You Belong to Me". The last song was Stafford's all-time biggest hit, topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the first song by a female singer to top the UK chart).
In 1960, Stafford related there were good and bad points to working closely with her husband. She said that Weston's knowing her so well made it easy for him to arrange music for her, but that it also made it difficult at times, as Weston knew her abilities and would either write or arrange music that was elaborate because he was aware she was capable of performing the song ably. She also said she did not believe she could perform in Broadway musicals as, she believed her voice was not powerful enough for stage work.
During her second stint at Capitol, Stafford also recorded for Frank Sinatra's label Reprise Records. These albums were released between 1961 and 1964, and were mostly retrospective in nature. Stafford left the label when Sinatra sold it to Warner Brothers. In late 1965, both Stafford and Weston left Capitol again, this time for Dot Records.
Stafford briefly performed comedy under the name "Cinderella G. Stump" with Red Ingle and the Natural Seven. She recorded a mock hillbilly version of Temptation, which she pronounced "Tim-tayshun", in 1947. That was not planned - she met Red Ingle at a recording studio and he told her that his female vocalist had been unable to make the session. She asked if she could help and although Ingle told her it wasn't her sort of thing, she stood in and in a completely impromptu performance, was brilliantly funny, a remarkable example of how a true singer could adapt to any theme and style. It was not known initially that it was her voice on the record.
Because she had done it in fun on the spur of the moment and accepted standard scale pay, Stafford waived all royalties from the record. Stafford, along with Ingle and Weston, made a personal appearance tour in 1949, turning herself into Cinderella G. Stump to perform the song. Stafford and Ingle performed the song on network television in 1960 for Startime. Further success in the comedy genre came about again accidentally.
In 1958, the Westons brought the pair to the television screen for a Jack Benny Shower of Stars and to The Garry Moore Show in 1960.
They continued recording Jonathan and Darlene albums, with their 1960 album, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris winning that year's Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album (they "tied" with Bob Newhart, as the Grammys decided, in a rare move, to issue two comedy awards that year. Newhart was given an award for "Spoken Word Comedy.") It was the only major award that Stafford ever won.
The couple continued to release the albums for several years, and in 1979 released a cover of The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" backed with "I Am Woman." The same year also saw a brief resurgence in the popularity of Jonathan and Darlene albums when their cover of "Carioca" was featured as the opening and closing theme to The Kentucky Fried Movie. Their "sing-along" album was blamed by Mitch Miller for putting an end to his sing-along television show and record albums.
Their last release, Darlene Remembers Duke, Jonathan Plays Fats, was issued in 1982.
1. Long ago
3. For you
4. Yes indeed
5. The night we called it a day
6. Embraceable you
7. The trolley song
9. Too Marcellous for words
10. Little man with a candy cigar
11. Blu moon
12. The thins we did last summer
13. What is this thing called love
14 I rememberg you
15. Day by day
16. This is always
17. I Love you
18. It Could happen to you
19. Blues in the night
20. Let`s just pretend
21. You took my love
22. Baby, wont`t you please come home
23. I`ll be seeing you