Etta Jones (November 25, 1928 – October 16, 2001) was an American jazz singer. She is not to be confused with the more popular singer Etta James nor her namesake, a member of the Dandridge Sisters, who recorded with Jimmy Lunceford and was Gerald Wilson's first wife. Her best known recordings were "Don't Go To Strangers" and "Save Your Love For Me". Jones variously worked with Buddy Johnson, Oliver Nelson, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, and the saxophonist Houston Person.
Jones was born in Aiken, South Carolina, United States, and raised in Harlem. Still in her teens, Jones joined Buddy Johnson's band for a nationwide tour although she was not featured on record. Her first recordings—"Salty Papa Blues", "Evil Gal Blues", "Blow Top Blues", and "Long, Long Journey"—were produced by Leonard Feather in 1944, placing her in the company of clarinetist Barney Bigard and tenor saxophonist Georgie Auld. She performed with the Earl Hines sextet from 1949-1952.
She had three Grammy nominations, for the Don't Go to Strangers LP in 1960, Save Your Love for Me in 1981, and My Buddy (dedicated to her first employer, Buddy Johnson) in 1999. In 2008 the album Don't Go to Strangers was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Following her recordings for Prestige, on which Jones was featured with high-profile arrangers such as Oliver Nelson and jazz stars such as Frank Wess, Roy Haynes, and Gene Ammons, she had a musical partnership of more than thirty years with tenor saxophonist Houston Person, who received equal billing with her. He also produced her albums and served as her manager, after the pair met in one of Johnny Hammond's bands.
Although Etta Jones is likely to be remembered above all for her recordings on Prestige, her close professional relationship with Person (frequently, but mistakenly, identified as Jones' husband) helped ensure that the last two decades of her life would be marked by uncommon productivity, as evidenced by a string of albums for Muse Records. In 1997 she recorded The Melody Lingers On, the first of five sessions for the HighNote label.
Her last recording, a tribute to Billie Holiday, was released 57 years later on the day of Jones' death. Only one of her recordings—her debut album for Prestige Records (Don't Go to Strangers 1960)—enjoyed commercial success with sales of over a million copies. Her remaining nine albums for Prestige and, beginning in 1975, her numerous recordings for Muse Records and HighNote Records secured her a devoted following.
She died in Mount Vernon, New York, at the age of 72 from cancer. She was survived by her husband, John Medlock, and a granddaughter.
- ^ a b c d "Biography by Scott Yanow". Allmusic.com. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
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- ^ Dahl, Linda. Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen Limelight Editions, 1989, p. 291.
- ^ 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame List