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Big Band Female Vocalists

aka Peggy Lee, Dinah Shore, Jo Stafford

Female vocalists came into their own during the big band era. Most dance bands had a ‘girl singer’ and electronic recording encouraged a softer, more nuanced delivery. There is a nice selection to choose from in the Knott’s record library. Take a listen...

Peggy Lee sang for Benny Goodman until he fired her for marrying the band’s guitar player. Here, on a song she composed herself, Miss Lee is accompanied by some very modern sounding guitar work by Dave Barbour, Goodman’s ex guitarist.


After Dinah Shore failed several big band auditions she struck out on her own. As it turned out, Ms. Shore’s career outlasted the big band era by decades. A listen to her on Hoagie Carmichael’s Skylark proves the big bands missed a great voice.


Then we have Jo Stafford. Here she is with a gentle warning on a Jimmy Van Heusen song. With a classically trained voice and an ear for good material, by 1955 she had sold more records than any female artist up until that time.