It is fascinating how many great artists does not fit in the prevailing style. If anyone of them can move their activity in time, he or she could become a star. Sometimes they lack happiness. For those not fully realized artists includes Dakota Staton (1930-2007) quite popular jazz vocalist of late fifties and sixties. Thank to beautiful warm voice and real touch of class she was priced as jazz singer along with her acclaim in popular music. But her success was lasting for slightly short period and was limited only to the years she was active on US scene.
Born in Pittsburgh she begun to sing and to dance as a child. She started career at seven, singing in trio with her sisters. After sisters got married, she continue solo shows, attending to Filion School of Music. In late forties she joined to Joe Wespray’s big band. After several years singing in clubs of Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland and St. Louis, she went to New York where in Harlem club Baby Grand she was discovered by Dave Cavanaugh, a producer for Capitol Records. In next years Capitol released many singles making her recognizable soft jazz singer in second half of fifties. Critical and musical circles reception was very good and in 1957 Capitol Records published her debut album The Late, Late Show. This album became her greatest success peaking number four in 1957 on Billboard pop charts.
|Dakota Staton – The Late, Late Show (1957)|
Recorded for Capitol Records February 28th and March 2nd 1957 the The Late, Late Show album was composed to deliver the perfect vision of singers technical and artistic possibilities. Accompanied by band arranged by Van Alexander with Hank Jones on piano artist recorded twelve songs, mostly well known standards, sometimes in quite original renditions as Summertime, Misty or My Funny Valentine.
This vinyl recording is hiding delicious and refreshing voice from the era of great jazz divas. The foundations of her style are firmly sustained, almost non-vibrating precise intonation and delicate and fast vibrato on ending phrases longer notes – a manner well established these time. But she is flexible in emotional spectrum fitting somewhere between Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Sometimes her interpretations sound too much deep like she was trying to mark it isn’t only the matter of popular song. Original and chilling interpretation of Moonray with some kind of dark aura and superb scat singing solos shows her as artist of deep possibilities.
George Shearing said, “Dakota is dynamic! To hear her sing for the first time is to joyously discover one of the finest jazz singers of our day.” And next year Dakota Staton recorded with Shearing album Dynamic! The power of her personality is moving in the final blues Ain’t No Use. She put here full scale of artistic resources from timid and discreet mannerisms to full scale vocal expression and great dialogs with trumpet of Jonah Jones. Ten years earlier this one song would be enough to give her prominent position. In fact twenty years later this kind of music was back on the stage. She has not enough luck, in mid-sixties she moved to England and in next decades she was recording turning to blues and gospel, but she never repeated the success of her first album.