An American singer of traditional pop music and jazz standards whose career ran from the late 1930s to the early 1960s, Stafford was greatly admired for the purity of her voice and was considered one of the most versatile vocalists of the era. She was also viewed as a pioneer of modern musical parody, having won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album in 1961 (with husband Paul Weston) for their album Jonathan and Darlene Edwards in Paris. She was also the first woman to have a No 1 hit on the UK Singles Chart. Stafford's work in radio, television and music is recognized by three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Jo got her first big start in 1938 when she joined a musical group which called themselves The Pied Pipers, performing with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra. 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 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 even remembered and revisited some of the folk music she had heard and enjoyed as a child.
In 1950, she left Capitol for Columbia Records, later returning to Capitol with Weston in 1961. While at Columbia she was their first recording artist to sell 25 million records for that company. Also at Columbia was Paul Weston, who moved to the label from Capitol. Weston and Stafford were married in a Roman Catholic ceremony on February 26, 1952.
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'" made 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.
Saying she no longer found it "fun", Stafford went into semi-retirement in the mid 1960s, retiring completely from the music business in 1975. Except for the Jonathan and Darlene Edwards material and a recording of her favorite "Whispering Hope" with her daughter Amy, also a singer, Stafford did not perform again until 1990, at a ceremony honoring Frank Sinatra.
The Westons then devoted more of their time to a charity that aids those with developmental disabilities; the couple had been active in the organization for many years. Concord Records attempted to get Stafford to change her mind and come out of retirement, but she remained adamant. Stafford won a breach-of-contract lawsuit against her former record label in the early 1990s, which won her the rights to all of her old recordings, including the Jonathan and Darlene recordings. Following the lawsuit, along with son Tim, she reactivated the Corinthian Records label, which began life as a religious label that the devout Paul Weston had started. With Weston's help, she compiled a pair of Best of Jonathan and Darlene albums, which were released in 1993.
In 1996, Paul Weston died of natural causes. Stafford continued to operate Corinthian Records. In 2006, she donated her library and her husband's to the University of Arizona. Stafford was inducted into the Big Band Academy of America's "Golden Bandstand" in April 2000 Stafford began suffering congestive heart failure in October 2007, from which she died on July 16, 2008.
MUSICAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
AND THE JOKE THAT MADE MILLIONS...JONATHAN AND DARLENE EDWARDS
They recorded the songs for a lark never realizing they would go over!!
CHECK OUT THIS WEBSITE FOR SOME OF JO'S MUSIC (LINK) MUCH OF JO'S MUSIC IS AVAILABLE TODAY THROUGH MUSIC SUPPLY HOUSES LIKE AMAZON.COM....BE SURE TO CHECK IT OUT. ALSO, CHECK OUT THE LINK ON OUR MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! PAGE TO SOME OF JO'S BIGGEST HITS