Jo Elizabeth Stafford, the third of four sisters, was born November 12, 1917 on a tract of land known as Lease 35 in Coalinga,California. Her mother, Anna York Stafford,a distant cousin of World War I hero Alvin York was known as one of the finest five-string banjoists in Gainsboro, Tennessee. Her father, Grover Cleveland Stafford, had come West to work in the California oil fields.
Jo's professional debut was with the Stafford Sisters, a trio in which Jo, upon graduation from Long Beach Poly High, joined her sisters Christine and Pauline. They had their own weekly radio show on KHJ radio, were regular performers on David Broekman's California Melodies, the Crockett Family of Kentucky shows, and performed both solo and group vocal work for all the major motion picture studios.
After marriage broke up the Stafford Sisters trio , Jo joined a group called the Pied Pipers, and along with her seven other group members was hired by Tommy Dorsey for the Raleigh-Kool radio program in 1938. After ten weeks with Dorsey the group dissolved, but Jo was hired back with three others once again as the Pied Pipers who sang with Dorsey for three years, recorded I'll Never Smile Again with Frank Sinatra, and provided Jo with the opportunity of making her own solo recordings with the Dorsey band. Her first solo recording was Little Man with a Candy Cigar.