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Etta Jones Dies at 72

Etta Jones, a much-loved vocalist whose career spanned over 50 years, passed away on Tues., Oct. 16 in Mount Vernon, N.Y. after a long struggle with cancer. She was 72.

Jones was born in Aiken, S.C. on Nov. 25, 1928, but grew up in New York City. Her family recognized her vocal talent early, and encouraged her to enter a talent contest when she was 15. She didn’t win, but got a plum prize out of the competition anyway: a gig as the youngest member of pianist Buddy Johnson’s jump blues band. She stayed with the band for about a year, leaving to record her first album in 1944. This featured Jones singing four Leonard Feather songs with Barney Bigard’s pickup ensemble. For the next eight years, Jones recorded with bands led by Bigard, J.C. Heard and Earl “Fatha” Hines.

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