Dakota Staton was a prima donna in the best sense of the term. I’ve worked with a few singers over the years, but there was certainly nobody like Dakota. In the cover photo of A Packet of Love Letters, her last for HighNote, you can see the pride, dignity and, yes, I have to admit, the little bit of vanity that put her in a league of her own.
Etta Jones and I were working a club called the Baby Grand in New York City, and I met Dakota there sometime in the mid-’70s. At that time she was at the peak of her powers but yet, somehow, she was overlooked as a performer. Her The Late, Late Show record-the one that made her a household name in the late ’50s and ’60s-was behind her and, like so many performers of that generation, she seemed to have been eclipsed by some of the younger singers. I brought her to Joe Fields at Muse Records and told Joe, “You just gotta record Dakota!” The Muse/HighNote connection was to be her final alliance with a record label, and I like to think it was one of her happiest and most productive periods.