SALENA JONES (b. Joan Shaw)
A direct descendant of Crazy Horse, the Indian Sioux warrior, Joan Shaw was born in Newport News, Virginia, and began singing in church and school before making her debut on life's bigger stages.
As a very young teenager, Joan Shaw`s career began at Manhattan's legendary Harlem Apollo, when she won the amateur night singing "September Song".
Joan grew up in New York in the company of musicians who would become the legends: Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Bud Powell, Wes Montgomery, Chico Hamilton and Stan Getz - she met all these people, jamming with some of them, and began making demonstration records for artists like Peggy Lee, Brenda Lee and Lena Horne, before getting her own recording contract.
Based in New York, with her own "Blues Extra Orchestra", Salena toured widely across the US with "King" Curtis in her band (whom she named), also working with Johnnie Ray, Laverne Baker, Arthur Prysock, and Frankie Lyman.
This rhythm`n`blues period was the forerunner to rock`n`roll and looking back, one sees how Joan Shaw is now revered by afficionados of those times.
Joan then worked regularly at the famous venues of the Village Vanguard, Minton`s Playhouse and Wells Supper Club. Leonard Feather, the noted jazz critic for "Downbeat" magazine, named Joan Shaw as one of the "most promising newcomers of 1964", together with "Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme".
Glamorous and beautiful, with her distinctive voice and relaxed style, by then she had met and sung with a breathtaking array of great jazz names. Her photo album shows her arm in arm with everyone from Betty Carter to Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstine, Vic Damone and Lena Horne.
However, wanting to expand her horizons, and concerned at the racism in her native country, Joan Shaw bought a one way ticket to Madrid where, having sung one song at the "Whiskey and Jazz Club", on the same night as her arrival in Spain, she was immediately engaged to sing nightly with Dexter Gordon.
But London called, and arriving in 1965, her management recommended a name-change