“How many of you have never heard of Dakota Staton?”


I have always heard and repeated – with a long 'A' vowel – the pronunciation of: Staton. Yet, even Mr. Barker is not exactly sure how to state the name of an artist whom he obviously respected; even though she was not of his generation. (It would be like me talking about, Alicia Keyes – but, ten years from now.)

Dakota Staton was a big enough star by the 1960's that even my father had a 12" copy of, Dakota Staton WITH STRINGS in his own minute record collection. The LP was purchased by someone, from the 'cut-out' bin. Nevertheless, by that afternoon in 1976 – when Mr. Barker was speaking to the Xavier Students about this potent Capitol Records artist, I was excavating the LP with her smiling head amidst glowing dots of “lounge lights.” After considering my past, I now say that 'with strings' was the first Jazz Vocal record that I ever heard. I'm so grateful to have it now; I Thought About You, sounds divine spinning on my Denon... drifting classically through my Klipsch 'corner horns' here at Maison Musique.

Dakota Staton was born June 3rd, 1930 in Pittsburg and studied at the Filion School of Music. Mr. Barker – I'm guessing – got hip to her once she got to Harlem and worked regular at a club called the Baby Grand. From there, Staton was signed to a productive recording contract under which such records as: Time To Swing, and a landmark LP with George Shearing, In The Night, began their journey's: some to horny guys' record players, others to cut-out bins... onward to vinyl-cardboard grave yards across America.

Staton was apparently influenced greatly by Billie Holiday. It is the song stylists like Staton and, Dinah Washington who gave to the legacy just enough blues again – and not enough church still – that would make way for Aretha and her descendants. Incidentally, a great vocalist now on the scene (that most listeners outside of New Orleans don't know about,) Betty Shirley has Dakota within her.

In the midst of her ascending light, Dakota Staton in 1958 marries an Antiguan Muslim, Talib Ahmad Dawud, also a trumpeter. She adopts the name, Aliyah Rabia. Danny Barker was not a great admirer of Islam, particularly the variety that he knew most of; that being the Jazzman who rejects his own legacy, in favor of Allah. (We will turn to this subject in the next coming weeks.) Still, Mr. Barker seems to attribute some of Staton's inevitable obscurity to her becoming, “totally confused.”


Dakota Staton died April 10th, 2007; I don't know whom, if anyone, she was calling upon when. The closest that I ever came to hearing her live was during my times in New York ('85-'99) where, as Mr. Barker said it: “now and then, she might appear” – from the sidewalk outside of Sweet Basil's Monday night bandstand, or heard talk about her singing around the piano at an up-scale east side bar where it was said that: “young entrepreneurs met older investors.”

Dear Reader, with the hopes that you will consider any of this to be of worth to you, I would like you to hear the track that Mr. Barker played for the students. You can find Dakota Staton's, Country Man, by going to my Main Page.

Peace & Pops,
Maison Musique, New Orleans
My Catalogue of CD's Available Thru A Locally Owned & Operated Retailer Worthy of Your Support:
MOMENTS OF SOUND: ESQUIZITO 1996-2006 is now available in Digital Download thru:
Amazon, iTunes, Emusic, Shockhound, Lala and, Rhapsody – which like iTunes, you would search for: esquizito

Uh... for all intents and purposes, let's just say: My recordings are available in the 'cut-out' bin.

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Comment by Esquizito on August 25, 2009 at 10:04am

Stating the BIG TIME.

Staying Power... in the latter days.

Staton Forever!
Comment by Esquizito on August 25, 2009 at 9:26am

Dakota Staton had been working small clubs in Piitsburg, Detroit, Chicago etc. before she went to New York where her artistry was recognized by the money-shakers; and she hit the BIG TIME... which lasted about ten years.

It doesn't really happen that way anymore, at least not for the first lines of the equation and, not for 'Jazz'. (Norah Jones - we are told was signed "on the spot" and yes, she would be (on a good night) an heiress to Staton on the Throne of Ballad.

There are so, so many worthy Jazz artists out here on the scene in cities all across America which many "musicians, critics, aficionados, and just plain records buyers" are completely unaware of. We might get a nominal amount of airplay when our product is released and, we may work more "across the pond" than right here at home. (Even Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong always had their top gigs in Paris.)

I encourage everyone to put more of a monetary value upon Jazz music in their lives. Pay to go see a live Jazz performance - regularly. Venture "off-the-beaten-path" for a lesser known artist. BUY PRODUCT! Buy the CD! It is obvious that they will be collectors items, soon... (until the discs become completely unplayable.)

All Jazz means something to someone; expand your ability to appreciate even the Cats & Chicks on the margins. Listen to Jazz to: party, relax, drive home, clean house, make love... If you really want to experience being alive, dig deeper this Jazz.

Keep swingin',
Comment by Esquizito on August 25, 2009 at 9:08am

When does 'hype' cease to be?

From the liner notes of Dakota Staton WITH STRINGS - 1964

DAKOTA STATON is a singer's singer and a swinger's swinger. Dakota can raise a listener to the sky with a rousing up-tempo block-buster, then turn around a few moments later and render a bluesy lament that will elicit sighs and sobs from the torch bearing crowd. She is truly an international star of the highest magnitude, as her loyal following throughout the world will attest, and her immediately-recognizable sound is a constant source of wonderment, awe and delight to musicians, critics, aficionados, and just plain records buyers.

(Alton J. Perez, DDS stood in the final category; I'm so glad that he did in this case.)



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