Frances Wayne

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Frances Wayne (born Chiarina Francesca Bartocci[1] or Clara Bertocci, August 26, 1924 – February 6, 1978) was an American jazz vocalist. She was best known for her recording of ''Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe."[1]

Early years[edit]

Wayne was born in Boston[1] and graduated from Somerville High School.[2]


She moved to New York City in her teens, where she sang in an ensemble led by her brother, saxophonist Nick Jerret.[3] A 1942 review in Billboard magazine described her as "a striking brunette with a true contralto, perfect rhythm, and, most interesting, a brand-new style...of deep understanding and feeling for the spirit of what she sings."[4]

Early in the 1940s, she recorded with Charlie Barnet's big band, and in 1943 sang with Woody Herman's band. After her husband, Neal Hefti, formed his own big band in 1947,[5] Wayne soloed in this ensemble as well. She sang with Hefti into the 1950s, and later sang with smaller ensembles, which featured Hank Jones, Milt Hinton, Jerome Richardson, Richie Kamuca, John LaPorta, Billy Bauer, and Al Cohn.

On radio, Wayne was the female vocalist on The Woody Herman Show.[6]

Personal life[edit]

On November 2, 1945, in Somerville, Massachusetts, Wayne married musician Neal Hefti,[7] who played trumpet and arranged material for Herman.[5] They remained wed until her death.[8]


On February 6, 1978, Wayne died in Boston at age 58 "after a long bout with cancer".[1]


Wayne was awarded the 1946 Esquire Award as Best New Female Vocalist.[8]


  • That Old Black Magic, with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra (Decca, 1943)[9]
  • The Music Stopped, with the Woody Herman Orchestra (Decca, 1944)[10]
  • Frances Wayne, (Coral, 1954)
  • Songs for My Man, with the Neal Hefti Orchestra, (Epic, 1956)
  • The Warm Sound of Frances Wayne, (Atlantic, 1957)


  1. ^ a b c d Feather, Leonard (February 10, 1978). "Frances Wayne Dies; Singer in Big Band Era". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. Part IV 28. Retrieved September 26, 2018 – via open access
  2. ^ "Somerville Band Singer to Wed in Midnight Ceremony". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. October 31, 1945. p. 18. Retrieved September 26, 2018 – via open access
  3. ^ Frances Wayne at Allmusic
  4. ^ Carter (April 4, 1942). "On the Stand: Nick Jerret" (PDF). Billboard. p. 21. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b Simon, George T. (1981). Simon Says, 4th Edition. Schirmer Books. ISBN 0-02-872430-5 P. 36.
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 358-359. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.
  7. ^ "Nuptials at Midnight". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. November 5, 1945. p. 5. Retrieved September 26, 2018 – via open access
  8. ^ a b "Frances Hefti, professional singer". The Boston Globe. Massachusetts, Boston. February 12, 1978. p. 43. Retrieved September 26, 2018 – via open access
  9. ^ Orodenker, M.H. (January 30, 1943). "On the Records: Charlie Barnet" (PDF). Billboard. p. 22. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  10. ^ "Music Popularity Chart" (PDF). Billboard. April 22, 1944. p. 17. Retrieved 15 April 2016.

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