Legendary jazz vocalist, Dakota Staton, died April 10th in Manhattan while recovering from a stroke. She was 76. Staton had been in recovery at the Isabella Geriatric Center, where she was residing. Dakota was born on June 3, 1931, in the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, she studied at the Filjon school of music. She began her professional career as a vocalist for the Joe Wespray Orchestra and spent several years on the Midwest nightclub circuit. She was discovered at the Baby Grand club in Harlem by Dave Cavanaugh, and signed to Capitol records. In 1955, Downbeat Magazine named her the years “most promising newcomer”. Ms. Staton’s debut album, “The Late Late Show” featured Jonah Jones on trumpet. In addition to the smash title track, Staton also recorded a vocal version of the Count Basie instrumental hit “Broadway”, and a haunting rendition of “My Funny Valentine”. Staton recorded more than two dozen albums, working with great musicians from pianist George Shearing to arranger Nelson Riddle. Vocally, compared to Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughn, Staton was always oriented towards albums and never enjoyed the hit single that might have broadened her appeal to a larger market. From 1962 to 1992 she recorded for a variety of labels, including United Artists, Verve, Columbia, Groove Merchant and Muse. Later in her career, Ms. Staton’s stylings showed more of a blues and gospel influence. Dakota married trumpeter Talib Dawud in 1958. Mr. Dawad played in many successful bands led by Louis Armstrong, Benny Carter, Jimmy Lunceford and Dizzy Gillespie. Per her step-daughter, Idrees Dawud, Dakota embraced Islam later in life, and changed her name to Aliyah Rabia.
Dakota Staton (1931-2007)