Jo Stafford, a perfect singer, died on Wednesday. She was ninety years old. There will be obituaries this morning in newspapers all over the world. Web sites have them already. Many people who read them will be hearing of her for the first time because in the 1960s, at the top of her game, she walked away from the music business. Tributes to Jo and memories of her showed up today across the internet. My artsjournal colleague Terry Teachout has a fine one, as does Bill Reed. I know of no better line of description about Jo’s singing than this one from Gene Lees in his book Singers and the Song II:
Possibly it was her way of letting a song happen rather than shoving it at you soaked in personal style.
Here’s what Gene had in mind: