*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 12, 2007
Dakota Staton, an iconic Pittsburgh jazz vocalist who achieved international
fame, died Tuesday at Isabella Geriatric Center in New York after a lengthy
illness. Ms. Staton was 76.
Sharynn Harper, a spokesperson for Ms. Staton's brother, Fred Staton, said
Ms. Staton had been in declining health after suffering a triple aneurysm
several years ago.
Ms. Staton's last major performance in Pittsburgh was in 1996 when she
performed at the Hill House Auditorium as part of the Mellon Jazz Festival.
Born and raised in Homewood, Ms. Staton attended Westinghouse High School
and was a member of the famed Kadets, a swing band that played music ranging
from "String of Pearls" to Coleman Hawkins' "Body and Soul."
After cutting her teeth working with the Joe Westry Orchestra at several of
the bigger nightclubs in the Hill District, Ms. Staton moved to Detroit in
search of other musical opportunities.
In 1954, Ms. Staton recorded a single for Capitol Records and began a series
of highly visible concerts on the East Coast. Two years later, she was named
"the most promising jazz vocalist of the year" by the critics at Downbeat
Magazine. When her first album, "Late Late Show," appeared the following
year, it was hailed a classic.
In the mid 1960s, Ms. Staton moved to England.
"From England I ventured all around the world," Ms. Staton told the
Post-Gazette in a 1996 interview. "Most of the venues I played there were
for international audiences that spoke and understood English, like the
Intercontinental hotel chains and other places I worked. Many of those
people had never heard the blues, and I was an oasis for them. I imagine
some of them have never heard it since."