Clairdee was born on November 19th in Tucson, Arizona but was raised in Denver, Colorado. She grew up harmonizing and dancing with her sisters and brothers in a show biz minded family, taking to improvising naturally. She formed a four-part vocal group in high school, but it wasn’t until after college that she focused on jazz.
She listened and learned from pioneering jazz vocalists such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter but it was veteran Hammond B3 organist William “Big Daddy” Sailes who took her under his wing and taught her a repertoire of standards and how to develop arrangements to suit her voice.
Moving to the Bay Area in 1986, Clairdee performed various styles of music over the next decade but by the mid 90s settled into jazz working with Eddie Henderson, John Handy, Roland Hanna and Allen Farnham.
Influenced by Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Johnny Hartman, Billy Eckstine and Nat King Cole she developed a style that made each song she interprets hers, allowing her to stir an emotion. As an educator she conducts master classes around the country and continues to perform and record.
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Sheila Jordan was born Sheila Jeanette Dawson on November 18, 1928 in Detroit, Michigan but grew up in Summerhill, Pennsylvania. By the age of 28 she returned to Detroit and began playing piano and singing semi-professionally in jazz clubs. She worked a trio that composed lyrics to Charlie Parker’s arrangements, who influenced her greatly.
In 1951, she moved to New York and started studying harmony and music theory with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus and married pianist Duke Jordan a year later. By the 60s she was gigging and doing session work in Greenwich Village and around town in various clubs; and in 1962 was discovered and recorded by George Russell on his album The Outer View. That led to her recording Portrait of Sheila in 1962 that was sold to Blue Note.
Over the next decade Sheila withdrew from music, supported herself as a legal secretary but by the mid 70s was working again with musicians like Don Heckman, Roswell Rudd, Lee Konitz and Steve Kuhn. She has had a notable career as a solo artist since then with her ability to improvise entire lyrics, although success has been limited.
Jordan has been an Artist In Residence teaching at City College, worked in an advertising agency, recorded for Steeplechase, ECM, Home Eastwind, Grapevine, Palo Alto, Blackhawk and Muse record labels. She has performed and recorded with George Gruntz, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley Harvie Swartz and Bob Moses among others and as a songwriter continues to work in both bebop and free jazz mediums.
Julie Lyon was born on November 17, 1969 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin but grew up in Florida where she studied classical voice and received her degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Central Florida.
After college Julie started her musical career singing with different Top-40, Rock, Blues and Country bands until meeting her husband, drummer Tom Cabrera, and then turned to jazz.
Following her passion Lyon has recorded two albums, “Beginning To See The Light” and “ Live: Between Then And Now” and has since become a regular on the Park Avenue scene in Winter Park. An Orlando area staple, she performs regularly at Club Swank, Harvey’s Bistro, Fiddlers Green and The Citrus Club among others.
Pulling up stakes she moved with her husband to New York and continues to perform with her quartet/quintet in jazz clubs and appear at annual festivals. The vocalist and lyricist also composes, arranges and improvises her style through her original and standard catalogue of music.
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Jo Elizabeth Stafford was born on November 12, 1917 in Coalinga, California. Her mother was an accomplished banjo player who folk songs became of great influence. Her first public singing appearance came in Long Beach when she was 12. She attended Long Beach Polytechnical High School with dreams of a career in opera but with the onset of the Great Depression she joined her sisters and became The Stafford Sisters. Popularity grew and they got their start at KNX Radio when Jo was just 18 and went on to perform at KHJ Radio in Los Angeles
The sisters found work in the film industry as backup vocalists, made their first recording with Louis in 1936 and a year later she created arrangements for Fred Astaire on the soundtrack of “A Damsel In Distress”. Jo went on to join the Pied Pipers, work with Tommy Dorsey in New York, record four sides for RCA Victor and then returned to Los Angeles. After the Dorsey years the group was signed to Johnny Mercer’s new label Capitol Records and started singing on the radio shows of Frank Sinatra, Bob Crosby and Mercer.
In 1944, Stafford left the Pied Pipers going solo, picked up the nickname G.I. Jo for her continuous performance for the US troops, hosted “The Chesterfield Supper Club” and before the decade ended had a couple of million-seller tunes. By the 50s she was doing work for Voice of America, recording at Columbia Records becoming the first artist to sell 25 million records and hosted The Jo Stafford Show on TV. In the Sixties she recorded for Reprise, Warner and Dot record labels in the Sixties, won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for her performance a part of the comedy duo Jonathan and Darlene Edwards.
Stafford went into semi-retirement in the mid-60s citing the music business as no longer fun and retiring completely in 1975. She devoted her time to charity for those with developmental disabilities. She donated her library to the University of Arizona and was inducted into the Big Band Academy of America’s Golden Bandstand in 2007.
Jo Stafford, singer of jazz standards and tradition pop music whose career spanned thirty years passed away of congestive heart failure on July 16, 2008. Her work in radio, television and music is recognized by three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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It Might As Well Be Spring has been a classic jazz favorite for many years but it didn’t start out that way. It was a song taken from the 1945 film State Fair with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and was part of the only original film score.
Jeanne Crain, who played Margy Frake, sang the song in the film, but was dubbed by Louanne Hogan. Dick Haymes, who portrayed the original Wayne Frake, made the first hit recording of the song, followed by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Kaye, Paul Weston, Margaret Whiting, Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Nina Simone, Brad Mehldau and Jane Monheit.
The Story: Love, romance and competition take center stage as the Frake family sets off for the state fair. Margy is melancholy and looks forward to the break in routine. Father Abel is excited about entering his prize pig Blue By for the ribbon and bets his neighbor. Mother is entering the cooking competition with her pickles and mincemeat recipes. Brothe Wayne is left forlorn by his girlfriend’s inability to go with him.
At the fair all the romances take a different turn of occurrences and lucky beaus end up with new ladies, Blue Boy wins in all his categories thanks to his lady love Esmeralda, and it’s a happily ever after story ending.