Search This Blog

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ms. Dakota Staton

 Photo Credit:

Dakota Staton         
A soulful jazz singer with a unique style and husky tone.....a longtime fav of mine :)
In the late 1950s Staton's popularity ranked as high as that of contemporaries Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studied music at Pittsburgh's Filion School of Music. She was soon chosen to be a vocalist with the Joe Wespray Orchestra, then the top band in the Pittsburgh area. After spending two years with Wespray she traveled to Detroit, working in various clubs there. Staton then followed the nightclub circuit which led her to Canada, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, and eventually New York.

It was while singing in a Harlem nightclub called the Baby Grand that Capitol Records producer Dave Cavanaugh discovered Staton and signed her to the label. After several singles Staton attracted the attention of Down Beat magazine, winning the magazine's high profile "Most Promising New Comer Award" in 1955. In the late 1950s she rose rapidly in popularity due to some fine swinging vocals on her first full length Capitol Records LP as backed by Jonah Jones on trumpet in 1957. The title track of this release turned out to be her biggest all time hit; The Late, Late Show. It was during this session that Staton also recorded her superb vocal rendering of what had previously been an instrumental hit for Count Basie called Broadway.

Following on the heels of The Late, Late Show was a superb outing with the George Shearing Quintet called "In The Night," also recorded in 1957. Her next date called "Dynamic," recorded the following year, further helped launch her meteoric rise to near the top of the female mainstream jazz vocalist category. With tunes on this release like Anything Goes and Too Close For Comfort, recorded with Harry Sweets Edison and a rhythm section, it seemed as if Staton would soon be in the category of a select few like Fitzgerald, Vaughan, and Washington. In 1959 several more great vocals as backed by the Sid Feller Orchestra were recorded and appeared on the release "More Than The Most." Unfortunately, even though she recorded steadily on Capitol Records through the spring of 1962, nothing achieved as much acclaim as her first few releases.

Later in her career Staton's styling showed more of a heavier, blues and gospel influence. From 1962 to 1992 she recorded for a variety of labels including United Artists, Verve, Columbia, Groove Merchant and Muse.

Dakota Staton passed away on Tuesday April 10, 2007, at the Isabella Nursing Home, in New York City. She had been in declining health for several years.


New York Times Obit

Dakota Staton, 76, Jazz Singer With a Sharp, Bluesy Sound, Dies
Published: April 13, 2007

Dakota Staton, a highly respected jazz and blues singer known from the 1950s on for her bright, trumpetlike sound and tough, sassy style, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 76 and had lived in New York for many years.

Sharynn Harper, a spokeswoman for Ms. Staton’s family, confirmed the death, citing no specific cause. She said Ms. Staton had been in declining health in recent years.

In 1957, Ms. Staton (pronounced STAY-ton) burst on the scene with her first full-length album, “The Late, Late Show,” released by Capitol Records. The album was a hit, and the title track became her most famous number. Her other well-known songs include “Broadway” and “My Funny Valentine,” from the same album, and “What Do You Know About Love?,” which she recorded earlier as a single for Capitol.

Ms. Staton, who recorded more than two dozen albums, was widely praised by critics and worked with many distinguished musicians, among them the pianist George Shearing and the arrangers Nelson Riddle and Sid Feller. But she never attained the fame of singers like Dinah Washington, whom she cited as a deep influence. This may have been partly because Ms. Staton was born a hair too late; by the time she began recording albums, rock ’n’ roll was shouldering aside her brand of bluesy jazz.

She continued performing well into her 60s, however. Writing in The New York Times in 1998, Robert Sherman called Ms. Staton “one of America’s great vocal stylists.”

Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh on June 3, 1930, and began singing and dancing as a child. By the time she was 18, she was singing in nightclubs in Detroit and other Midwestern cities; she later settled in New York. In 1955, Down Beat magazine voted her the most promising newcomer of the year.

In the late 1950s, Ms. Staton married Talib Dawud, a trumpeter; the marriage ended in divorce. (Ms. Staton, who converted to Islam after her marriage, used the name Aliyah Rabia for a time.) Her brother, Fred Staton, a saxophonist who lives in New York City, is her only immediate survivor.

Among Ms. Staton’s other albums are “Dynamic!” (Capitol, 1958); “Dakota at Storyville” (Capitol, 1961); “Isn’t This a Lovely Day” (Muse, 1992); and “Live at Milestones” (Caffe Jazz), released last month.

I did some cherry picking with this one, today...I stuck to mostly her earlier stuff, and from that, pretty much just fave cuts of mine. I hate to say it, but occasionally her vocals, though great, can strike me as a tad overwrought on certain songs. (I'm sure many would disagree with my feelings, but I'm being honest about how I shaped this list).

I also wish to say that there are some things missing from this list that are out of print, and I don't own....especially some of her stuff with George Shearing that I used to have, but cannot locate right now.

Now for a few tunes, mostly from the earlier part of her career:

A foggy day
A little you
Angel eyes
Anything goes
Baby don't you cry
Body and soul
But not for me
Can't live without him anymore
Country Man (a later recording than most of the rest on here, but bluesy and fun)
Crazy he calls me
Dedicated to you
Don't explain
East of the sun
Girl talk (again, a bit later, but a great version)
Gone with the wind
How did he look
How does it feel
How high the moon
I hear music
I never dreamt
If I should lose you
Let me know
Let me off Uptown
Love walked in
The best thing for you
The late late show

A losing battle (later recording....a good blues, though..)
My one and only love
No moon at all
On Green Dolphin Street
Say it ain't so Joe
September in the rain
The party's over
The song is ended
The song is you
Thrill is gone (later, again....excellent version, though)
Too close for comfort
Until the real thing comes along
What do you know about love
When lights are low
Willow weep for me
You don't know what love is
You've changed


  1. Oh, Dakota is just delicious! Her "Ballads and the Blues" LP has to be my favorite.

  2. I should follow up the post of earlier stuff, by honoring the later period, too. Her style changed over the years, but her her voice was still amazing, and the way she could make a song her own.

  3. Thanks for the intro to some new Staton!

    I think your cuts from "Late, Late Show" are in true mono, and not the "pseudo-stereo" of my LP (Capitol SM-876) and the new cd. Am I correct? And do you have an opinion about which sounds better?


  4. Correct. I like the Mono version. Capitol's Duophonic "stereo" was weird to me. I like hearing the music as it was originally mean to sound, personally. I do believe that the CD re-release of this wasn't from original session masters in mono, but in Duophonic, also.

  5. Thanks for the reply.

    Did your encodes come from Capitol T-876? I'd like to know what LP to look for, since yours sound better than mine.

  6. My copy is the old 1959 black label Capitol Mono one, I do believe it's T-876. I'll dig the LP out and check, but I'm pretty sure.

  7. I'll put this info in my list when I make my next trip to the big record store. Thanks!

  8. Excellent! I hope you can find nice copy :)

  9. I found a passable copy of the original mono release and am encoding it now.

    Do you know if "Crazy He Calls Me" in stereo is TRUE stereo? I let a copy slip by me (a lot of dough: $38, but still...), and wonder if it is the real deal.

  10. I'm not sure if it is true stereo. I'm familiar with the Mono copy, and I don't recall it being that expensive, even in really good shape. Hmmm, was this through a record dealer? or online? A lot of dealers I know will let you hear the copy on their equipment.

  11. I have seen the "Crazy He Calls Me" LP referenced at allmusic, and the "Dynamic" cd had 2 of CHCM's cuts in stereo as bonuses. It's in the time when LP's were going to stereo, so it might have been released that way.

    The $38 LP copy of CHCM that I saw for sale online (parisjazzcorner) claims to be stereo, but with the label #T1170, which means mono to me. So I'm biding my time and crossing my fingers.

  12. Oh, hang on. I just checked the "Dynamic" sound samples on allmusic and those bonus cuts from CHCM are in mono.

    Never mind

  13. #T1170 is certainly Mono, as far as I've always known. :)

  14. Great stuff bout one of the true greats!!!!

  15. By the way: I just bought an original copy of the album Crazy he calls me in mint condition...

  16. Excellent! Did it set you back a bit?

  17. I don't mind you using my photo of Dakota taken in Melbourne Australia but an acknowledgement and a link to the original would be appreciated

  18. By all means! I had this pic from a friend, and didn't know the proper credit. THAANK YOU! :)

  19. Hey, again.

    Sorting out my confusion I find the following:

    "Crazy He Calls Me" WAS issued in stereo (it's shown on the back of a later Staton release), but I'll be danged if I can find one. (I wonder if Pete J.'s copy is stereo).

    I got an okay copy of "In the Night" on LP, then found a MUCH better one weeks later. $23 for the pair is not too bad.

    I also found a moderately good copy of "Late, Late Show" in the original mono.

  20. I adore her sooooo much. I have a few of her real albums like THE LATE LATE SHOW AND CRAZY HE CALLS ME AND MADAME FOO FOO AND TIME TO SWING. I adored her so much for what she brought to the game. Her sound was light and playful with a little sexy, but still powerful and moving.

    She ranks up high with my other favorites whom I listen to daily like the great Della Reese, Joyce Bryant..and a few more.

    I love this blog.

  21. Aww, Thanks! I have loved that playful, sexy sound since I as a kid :)