Joni Metcalf

Piano, vocals.

Born and raised in Seattle, Joni Metcalf (nee Swartz) started visiting Jackson Street clubs with a fake ID when she was still at Lincoln High School, catching Ray Charles at the Rocking Chair and getting booked into the 908 Club, singing and playing piano for Pops Buford, in 1949. In 1951, she appeared with Bumps Blackwell at the Orpheum Theater as a pianist accompanying Floyd Standifer and in a scat trio that also featured Roscoe Weathers. That same year she was at Washington Hall on the bill with Billie Holiday. Swartz married Chuck Metcalf in 1952 and their home in the University District became a site for jam sessions that included touring musicians, such as members of the Stan Kenton band. Later, in Madrona, their larger home served much the same purpose. Joni forged a high-profile local career in downtown lounges, recording albums with pianist Jerome Gray. In 1970s, she started teaching vocal jazz at Cornish College and later developed a music career development class. She also revived her performance career, recording an instrumental album, “Ringaround,” in 1982.

Jackson Street After Hours (print). No known online links.