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.