Etta Jones

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Etta Jones
Etta Jones and Houston Person, 1980
Etta Jones and Houston Person, 1980
Background information
Born(1928-11-25)November 25, 1928
Aiken, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedOctober 16, 2001(2001-10-16) (aged 72)
Mount Vernon, New York
GenresJazz, pop, R&B
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active1943–2001
LabelsPrestige, Muse, HighNote

Etta Jones (November 25, 1928 – October 16, 2001) was an American jazz singer.[1] Her best-known recordings were "Don't Go to Strangers" and "Save Your Love for Me". She worked with Buddy Johnson, Oliver Nelson, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, and Houston Person.[2]


Etta Jones in Bryant Park, New York City 1984

Jones was born in Aiken, South Carolina,[1] and raised in Harlem, New York. Still in her teens, she joined Buddy Johnson's band for a 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.[1] In 1947, she recorded and released an early cover version of Leon Rene's "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" (previously released by the Basin Street Boys on Rene's Exclusive label) while at RCA Victor Records.[3] She performed with the Earl Hines sextet from 1949 to 1952.[4]

She had three Grammy nominations: for the Don't Go to Strangers album in 1960, the Save Your Love for Me album in 1981, and My Buddy (dedicated to her first employer, Buddy Johnson) in 1998. In 2008 the album Don't Go to Strangers was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[5]

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 30 years with tenor saxophonist Houston Person, who received equal billing with her.[6] He also produced her albums and served as her manager after the pair met in one of Johnny "Hammond" Smith'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, evidenced by a string of albums for Muse Records. In 1996, she recorded The Melody Lingers On, the first of five sessions for the HighNote label.[7]

Her last recording, a tribute to Billie Holiday, was released on the day of Jones' death.[8] Only one of her recordings—her debut album for Prestige Records (Don't Go to Strangers, 1960)—enjoyed commercial success with sales of over 1 million copies. Her remaining seven albums for Prestige, and beginning in 1976, her 12 recordings for Muse Records, and seven recordings for HighNote Records secured her a devoted following.[1]

She died in Mount Vernon, New York at the age of 72 from cancer.[2] She was survived by her husband, John Medlock, and a granddaughter.


Guest appearances[edit]

With Houston Person


  1. ^ a b c d "Biography by Scott Yanow". Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  2. ^ a b - accessed September 2011
  3. ^ Jones, Etta, "1944-1947" Classics (France) CD
  4. ^ Dahl, Linda, Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen, Limelight Editions, 1989, p. 291.
  5. ^ 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame List Archived June 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Murph, John. "NPR's Jazz Profiles: Etta Jones". Retrieved 2021-06-16.
  7. ^ a b "Etta Jones". Discogs. Retrieved 2018-08-24.
  8. ^ "Singer Etta Jones Dies at 72". Washington Post. 2001-10-18. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-08-24.

External links[edit]