Dynamic : Dakota Staton©2004JCMarion


Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh in June of 1931 as Aliyah Rabiyah. While growing up she idolized many singers of the day, most especially Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington. While a teenager she developed her skills at the Filion School of Music in her home town. She soon was competent enough to join the orchestra of Joe Wespray one of the top bands in the area of Western Pennsylvania. After two years with the band Staton went out on her own and performed as a solo artist in such locations as the Orchid Room in Kansas City, Gleason's in Cleveland, and the Flame Show bar in Detroit.

While continuing to perform across the country, she made a stop in New York City at a night spot called The Club Baby Grand. There she was heard by Capitol Records A & R head Dave Cavanaugh who soon signed Staton to the label. The first release by Capitol was a jump tune called "My Heart's Delight" and the flip side was a tune called "What Do You Know About Love" on Capitol #3010. The tune "My Heart's Delight" was a featured side on Moondog Freed's radio program and soon was signed on to appear at Alan Freed's very first stage show in New York at St. Nicholas Arena during January of 1955. Although she was marketed as an R & B performer initially, her true calling was as a jazz vocalist.

In March of 1955 "For The Rest Of My Life" and "No Mama, No Papa" is released on Capitol #3059. A big plus for Staton was her selection by Downbeat Magazine, as they chose her as the top new star of the year. In May, Staton appears with Alan Freed in Boston along with Al Hibbler, Dinah Washington, Little Walter, Bo Diddley, The Moonglows, and Five Keys. After her initial categorization as an R & B performer she moved closer to her true style. Following releases on Capitol included "I Never Dreamt You'd Fall In Love With Me" and "Abracadabra" on #3181 and "It Feels So Nice" on #3293. In November of 1955 Staton appears with New York dj Tommy "Dr. Jive" Smalls at the Apollo Theater along with The Flamingos, Jacks, Harptones, Heartbeats, Etta James, Bill Doggett, and Howlin' Wolf. Closing out the year Staton has an extended engagement in Toronto, Canada, at the Town Tavern.

Starting out in 1956 Dakota records "It Feels So Nice" and "A Dangerous Age" for Capitol. Even though Staton continues to perform in a jazz manner, she is still showcased as an R & B performer. She is part of a a Rhythm & Blues Revue that plays dates in the Midwest during late January and through February beginning in Detroit. Also on the show are The Flamingos, Sweethearts, Charms, Orioles, and Nolan Lewis.In March Dakota appears with The Turbans, Sweethearts, and Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams and his band at Cleveland's Circle Theater for Al (Fatman) Jackson. In Buffalo, New York, another R & B show features Staton with The Moonglows, and Paul Williams and his band. On into 1957 Staton continued to appear at traditional R & B venues such as Chicago's Crown Propeller Lounge where she had a two week engagement in the spring of 1957. By this time R & B had evolved into rock 'n roll and had become the music of teenage America with an emphasis on the teen idol look. Staton, now in her late 20s concentrated on her first love in music, jazz stylings heavily influenced by Dinah Washington.

In late 1957 she completed work on her first LP album for Capitol Records. It was called "The Late Late Show" on #876 and first entered the record sales charts in February of 1958. The album was arranged and produced by Dave Cavanaugh with an assist from trumpeter Jonah Jones (with a hit LP called "I Dig Chicks") and was a solid success. The LP remained on the best seller charts for most of the year and rose as high as the number four position among the top sellers. Staton had finally found her audience and they were enthusiastic in their support. Late in 1958 a followup LP was recorded called "Dynamic !" on #1054 and it also was well received. It made the best seller charts briefly as her first album was still selling well at the time of issue. In early 1959 a third best selling LP was recorded for Capitol Records. This one was called "Crazy He Calls Me" on #1170 and became a top ten seller and a two and a half month stay on the best seller charts.

By the dawn of the new decade Dakota Staton had secured her place among the top names in jazz and blues styling. She now appeared at many of the top night clubs in the country such as The Blackhawk in Chicago and the Village Vanguard in New York. The days of the R & B Revues were over. She left Capitol Records in the early 60s and then recorded for United Artists, Groove Merchant, and into the 90s on Muse.

Dakota Staton is possessed of a voice to remember and a personality to put over a song whether a bright swinging tune, or a sultry love song that sounds as though it was written just for you. We are lucky indeed that much of her work through the years is available on CDs that preserve this musical history. Here is a listing (certainly not complete) of Dakota Staton CDs.

"The late Late Show" - the classic first LP from 1958 now on Collectables from 1994. Features trumpeter Jonah Jones. Tunes include "Trust In Me", "Misty", "You Showed Me The Way", and the title tune. 

"More Than The Most" - Collectables from 1994 originally recorded for Capitol in 1959. Songs include "East Of The Sun", "September In The Rain", "Love walked In"

"In The Night" - Blue Note from 2003 originally recorded in 1959. Features the George Shearing Quintet on "I Hear Music", "Confessin' The Blues", the title tune and a reprise of "The late Late Show".

"Dakota At Storyville Live !" - Collectables from 1994, originally recorded in 1961.

"Moonglow" - LRC from 1994 originally recorded in 1972. Includes "Porgy", "Losing Battle", "Hurry Home", and "Cherokee".

"Ms. Soul" - on Simitar (import) the same as Moonglow

"Dakota Staton" - Muse from 1994 and also called "Jazz Me Blues" on BMG in 1999. Songs include "Country Man", "The Thrill Is Gone", and "Mean To Me".

"Softly / Round Midnight" - Two Capitol LPs from the early 60s released on a double CD by EMI in 2001. "Softly" features the Benny Carter Orchestra.

"Please Save Your Love" - Muse from 1994 - "You Better Go Now", "Skylark", and "Gone With The Wind".

"A Packet Of Loveletters" - Dutch import features Melvin Sparks and Houston Person. Tunes include "More Than You Know", "Guess Who", and "Night Life".

"Congratulations To Someone" - LRC from 2002

"Cry Me A River" - German import.

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