OTB Latenight – Jo Stafford (Updated)
Frank Sinatra, a bandmate of Stafford’s before his own fame took flight, once said of her, “It was a joy to sit on the bandstand and listen to her.” R.I.P.
Update: Dave Schuler
No tribute to the fabulous Jo Stafford would be complete without mentioning her second, rather unexpected career. It began as a party gag she and her husband, Paul Weston, would entertain with. She’d sing off-key, he’d play a de-tuned piano, out of rhythm, missing a few notes. It became a gentle hoax, an in-joke, Stafford and Weston claiming that they’d discovered Jonathan and Darlene Edwards performing in New Jersey. It eventually was one of the first commercially successful song parody groups, the forerunner of Weird Al and many others. Between 1961 and 1993 they produced (to my knowledge) five Jonathan and Darlene Edwards albums. If you look around on YouTube you’ll find Darlene’s performances of Stayin’ Alive and I Am Woman being used as background music on a few entries. The Darlene Edwards version of April in Paris defies description.
Her performances [updated: as Darlene] are simply remarkable. It takes incredible discipline and skill to sing persistently a quarter tone off-key.