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About Mary Stafford

Mary Stafford became the first black woman to record for Columbia Records, releasing records under the name Mary Stafford & Her Jazz Band. After moving east from Missouri in the mid-'10s, Stafford worked with Eubie Banks, Bessie Smith, and Madison Reed in Atlantic City and Baltimore. She was backed up by Charlie Johnson's Orchestra (which included her brother George, a drummer) through the mid-'20s. Stafford spent the rest of the decade singing in the nightclubs of New York and Maryland. The early '30s brought the musical revues Dear Old Southland and the Rocking Chair Revue. In 1932, she settled in Atlantic City and retired from music. Her song "I'm Gonna Jazz My Way Straight Through Paradise" appeared on the collection Blue Ladies [Memphis Archives]. ~ Ron DePasquale