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Friday, September 17, 2021

100 Strings & Joni In Hollywood - Joni James


Secret Love

100 Strings & Joni In Hollywood
Joni James
Produced by Acquaviva
Musical Supervision by Acquaviva
Recording Director: Norman Newell
Musical Directors: Geoff Love and Tony Osborne
MGM E3840

From the back cover: Though there are no wicked step-sisters lurking in her background, tiny Joni has seen a measure of life through her deep, deep eyes. One of four children, Joni was raised in Chicago by her widowed mother, who used to make games out of poverty to make it seem less grim to her children. At 14, Joni was in high school on a scholarship, singing Gregorian Chants in the school choir, and packing cookies in a bakery after school for the lordly sum of eight dollars a week.

Half the eight dollars went to help out at home, the other half went for dancing lessons. "Though I'd been singing for as long as I remember, I had a terrific thing in those days to be a ballet dancer," recalls Joni, Her dream was to  be a prima ballerina, dancing on a fairy tale stage so beautiful and remote that poverty could have nothing whatever to do with it.

When she graduated from high school, she was offered a college scholarship, but turned it down so she could concentrate on dancing. She danced her way into a small night club on the Near North Side of Chicago, where she was in the middle of an engagement when an unruly appendix forced her to stop dancing. Desperate, she asked the club owner if she could finish out her date doing the only thing she knew about at all – singing. He decided to let her try, and Joni quickly pulled a few numbers together with the help of a friend who was a singer.

She was a natural from the beginning. Audiences loved her, and before many months had passed, she was on local television in Chicago. True, she merely sang commercials on a late evening movie show, but it was a showcase, and people were getting to know her. She was on her way, she thought. She cut a record of beautiful old song and, sent it to someone she knew at a record company. It turned out that the company liked the song just fine. Next time she heard it, the song was becoming a national hit – with another singer singing it.

This was early in 1952, and though it took Joni a while to get over it, the net result of the experience was a reinforced belief in herself. Later the same year she recorded Why Don't You Believe In Me? for MGM Records, and the struggle for recognition was over. The record sold a million copies within a few weeks of its release, and it hasn't stopped selling yet. Early this year, in fact, it passed the two-million mark in sales.

The rest is show business history. In rapid succession, Joni followed up with Have You Heard?, Your Cheatin' Heart and My Love, My Love, How Important Can It Be, Give Us This Day, You Are My Love and There Goes My Heart. All reached the golden million mark in sales. Two, Your Cheatin' Heart and Why Don't You Believe In Me, reached the rare platinum mark – over two million copies sold. In addition, Joni has also  been awarded the Platinum Album Award, signifying sales of more than two million albums!

This album, 100 Strings and Joni in Hollywood, is part of a series that marks a high point in the career of Cinderella James. Credit for the idea goes to Tony Acquaviva, Joni's arranger-conductor husband, who got the inspiration for the series while talking to some English recording men while Joni was appearing at the London Palladium in 1959. He happened to remark that the quality of Joni's voice has always reminded him of a violin. The Britishers agreed that they had noticed it, too, and then there it occurred to all hands that Joni ought to be recorded with a large string orchestra – the kind that would have been playing at that wonderful ball that ended at midnight. From that point on, it was just a matter of organizing the recording date for this album and one other, 100 Strings and Joni on Broadway.

From Billboard - September 5, 1960: Joni James has two albums here that could be strong sellers. The Broadway set features the winsome thrush singing top songs from Broadway musicals, including "Hey There" and "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face." The Hollywood set features the lass in tunes from the movies, ranging from "Tammy," to "Over The Rainbow," She handles them all in her own familiar style, and the backing by the 100 Strings is lush.

Tammy - Tammy And The Bachelor
True Love - High Society
I'll Never Stop Loving You - Love Me Or Leave Me
It's Easy To Remember - And So Hard To Forget
Over The Rainbow - The Wizard Of OZ
Around The World - Around The World In 80 Days
I Can't Begin To Tell You - The Dolly Sisters
Secret Love - Calamity Jane
Three Coins In The Fountain
The Boy Next Door - Meet Me In St. Louis
Dancing On The Ceiling - Evergreen
An Affair To Remember

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