Salena Jones

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Salena Jones
Salena Jones (1970).jpg
Salena Jones (1970)
Background information
Birth name Joan Elizabeth Shaw
Also known as Joan Shaw
Born (1930-01-29) January 29, 1930 (age 88) (disputed)
Newport News, Virginia, United States
Genres Jazz, cabaret, R&B
Occupation(s) Vocalist
Years active 1949–present
Labels Savoy, MGM, Regal, Abbey, Coral, Gem, Jaguar, ABC-Paramount, Sue, CBS, JVC Victor
Associated acts Keith Mansfield (husband)

Salena Jones (born Joan Elizabeth Shaw, January 29, 1930, 1938 or 1944)[nb 1] is an American jazz and cabaret singer. After performing and recording in the US as Joan Shaw from the late 1940s until the early 1960s, in various styles including jazz and R&B, she moved to England and from then on performed as Salena Jones. She has toured internationally and recorded over forty albums.


Early life and career[edit]

According to most sources, she was born Joan Elizabeth Shaw in Newport News, Virginia, though some sources give the name Joan DeCarlo.[1][2] Her uncle was a vaudeville comedian, dancer and singer, Bootsie Swan.[3] After first singing in her church and school, she started performing in clubs by the age of fifteen. She won a talent contest in New York's Apollo Theater, singing "September Song",[6] and after making demonstration records for Peggy Lee and Lena Horne, acquired her own contract as Joan Shaw. Her first disc was 1949's "He Knows How to Hucklebuck", with the Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams Orchestra, for the Savoy label. In the early 1950s, she recorded for various labels including MGM (1950), Regal, Abbey (both 1951), and Coral (1952), often working with vocal group The Five Keys and the Billy Ford Orchestra. After some time performing in clubs in Florida and elsewhere as a nightclub singer, she began touring with an R&B band, the Blues Express, appearing with Johnnie Ray, Arthur Prysock, Varetta Dillard, Peppermint Harris, and others.[6] She recorded in various styles, including R&B on recordings such as "You Drive Me Crazy" on the Gem label in 1953.[7]

In 1954, she had a club residency in Bermuda, where she performed with saxophonist "King" Curtis Ousley, before returning to New York and recording for the Jaguar label. She continued to tour, and sang on bills with Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Big Maybelle, LaVern Baker and others. She recorded later in the decade for ABC-Paramount and the small U-C label, but mainstream success eluded her and she was bypassed by the growth of rock and roll.[7] In 1960, she began recording for Epic Records, releasing several singles and, in 1961, the LP Joan Shaw Sings For Swingers, recorded with the Bellino Ramaglia Orchestra and with liner notes by Leonard Feather. Her second LP, Joan Shaw In Person, was released by Sue Records in 1963.[8][9]

As Salena Jones[edit]

Faced with diminishing success and racism in the USA, Joan Shaw reinvented herself in the mid-1960s as Salena Jones.[6] She said, "I loved Sarah Vaughan so much and adored Lena Horne's elegance; I put them together as ‘Salena.’ It looked good. And I kept Joan in ‘Jones.’” And that's how Salena Jones was born."[10]

She toured in Spain (1965) and Britain (1966), where she appeared for an extended season at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. Since then she has appeared at most leading concert halls and clubs in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, and appeared regularly on radio and TV, with her own series in the United Kingdom. Since visiting Japan for the first time (1978) she appeared there annually, memorably in the Unesco Save The Children Telethon (1988),[6] and on a concert tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1992).[5] In 1964, Down Beat jazz critic Leonard Feather chose Salena Jones as one of the female vocalists of the year, alongside Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald (also from Newport News) and Nancy Wilson.[11]

Salena has also appeared throughout Britain, touring with the Million Airs Orchestra, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, Austria and Bulgaria. She has also made numerous television and radio broadcasts in Britain, and throughout Europe, often supported by the BBC Big Band. Also performed in Australia, Africa, South America, China, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. Since her first visit to Japan in 1978 she has returned at least annually, appearing in concert halls, on television, radio and regularly at the Blue Note Jazz Clubs in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka.

In her career to date Salena has recorded over forty albums, covering nearly five hundred songs, and sold over 500,000 albums worldwide and her album entitled My Love recorded in Tokyo won her an award in Japan for outstanding sales. Salena's musical biography includes many distinguished musicians, band leaders and other artists with whom she has performed or recorded. These include such performers as her long-time producer and husband Keith Mansfield, Herman Foster, Tom Jones, The Coasters, Count Basie Orchestra, Adelaide Hall, Art Farmer, Brook Benton, Barney Kessel, Art Themen, Sarah Vaughan, Hank Jones, Maynard Ferguson, and Dudley Moore.

In Rio de Janeiro not long before Antonio Carlos Jobim's death she recorded Salena Sings Jobim With The Jobims (1994) (licensed from Japanese Victor by Vine Gate Music UK), Jobim's hits sung in English, with Paulo Jobim on vocals, flute and guitar, grandson Daniel Cannetti Jobim on piano and the composer himself on two duets, Kenny Burrell on one track: 14 Jobim songs plus Michael Franks's tributes "Antonio's Song (The Rain- bow)" and "Abandoned Garden", and including two duos with Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim himself. In the 1990s, Salena made a sequence of six albums all consisting of standards and completed in six weeks, including mixing. Some of these albums, including Dream with Salena, Journey with Salena, Broadway and Hollywood are themed with songs appropriate to the titles.

Early 2000 saw Salena starring at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, backed by the Hank Jones Quartet including such as Russell Malone, Lewis Nash, and also featuring trumpeter Roy Hargrove, singer Dianne Reeves and Freddie Cole. January 2001 saw Salena return to Israel for eight sell-out shows, and she took her trio to Japan in May for two weeks appearing for Cartier, the jewellers, at their trade fairs throughout the country. In May 2006, Salena sang again in China opening the Shanghai International Jazz Festival (opened in 2005 by Diana Krall). Salena opened with Lee Ritenour, and Tower of Power.

She is now based in Ascot, Berkshire, England.

In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Salena is mentioned to have her lyrics written by Schopenhauer.



Joan Shaw[edit]

Year Title Label
1961 Joan Shaw Sings For Swingers Epic
1963 Joan Shaw In Person Sue

Salena Jones[edit]

Year Title Label
1969 The Moment of Truth CBS
1970 Everybody's Talkin' CBS
1971 Platinum CBS
1973 Alone and Together RCA
1974 This 'n' That RCA
1976 Where Peaceful Waters Flow DJM
1978 Stairway to the Stars Eastworld
1979 Stormy With Luv JVC
1980 Ballad With Luv JVC
1980 Love Is In The Air JVC
1980 Melodies of Love JVC
1981 My Love JVC
1982 Salena Fascinates JVC
1983 Shifting Sands of Time JVC
1984 Feelings Change JVC
1986 I Want To Know About You JVC
1987 The Song of Life JVC
1988 Let It Be JVC
1991 Night Mood JVC
1992 I Love Paris JVC
1994 Salena Sings Jobim with the Jobims Vine Gate
1994 Only Love JVC Victor
1994 In Hollywood JVC Victor
1994 Journey With Salena Jones JVC Victor
1995 It Amazes Me Vine Gate
1995 Dream With Salena Jones JVC Victor
1995 By Request JVC Victor
1996 Singin' In The Rain JVC Victor
1996 By Request Vol. II JVC Victor
1996 Love With Salena Jones JVC Victor
1997 Night Mood JVC Victor
1998 Salena Jones Meets Kenny Burrell JVC Victor
1999 You Never Done It Like That JVC Victor
1999 Classic Salena JVC Victor
2001 Those Eyes JVC Victor
2002 Salena Swings JVC Victor
2003 Let's Fall in Love
2008 Love & Inspiration
2010 Salena Sings J-Ballads
2012 Salena – The First Live



  1. ^ Several reliable sources, including 60 Years of Recorded Jazz, 1917–1967 by Walter Bruyninckx,[1] and The Encyclopedia Yearbooks of Jazz by Leonard Feather,[2] give January 29, 1930 as the date of birth of the singer Joan Shaw. The liner notes for her 1961 LP Joan Shaw Sings For Swingers, also written by Feather, state that she "...began singing in amateur programs around town from the time she was 13. Within a couple of years she had graduated to local night clubs, and soon she had her first fling in New York, trying out in the amateur hour at the Apollo Theater. Soon after, in 1948, she was hired as band vocalist with a group led by Paul Williams....".[3] It is clear and uncontested that Joan Shaw later began using the name Salena Jones, after moving to England. However, the sources for Joan Shaw conflict with other sources such as AllMusic,[4] and The Rough Guide to Jazz,[5] which give Salena Jones' date of birth as January 29, 1944.


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