The Story and Music of Jo Ann Campbell


Introduction to Jo Ann Campbell

Jo Ann Campbell is an American retired pop/R&B/country singer-songwriter, particularly active in the 50s music era. She was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1938. Campbell was a former dancer, starting from school participation as a drum majorette. Then she toured Europe as a dancer in the early 1950s – but without pay; however, it gave Campbell and other colleagues to see and travel the continent as well as to hone their dancing skills. In 1956, Campbell decided to quit dancing and try her hand at singing, first signing up with New York-based RKO-Point label, and then to Eldorado imprint. Her first singles “Where Ever You Go,” “Come on Baby,” and  “Wait a Minute” didn’t chart, though that didn’t deter her from singing. She made appearances at New York’s prestigious Apollo Theater, the Brooklyn Paramount and on Dick Clark’s TV show American Bandstand, as well as in films Go Johnny Go and Hey Let’s Twist. In the summer of 1961 Campbell achieved her first charting single in 1960 with “A Kookie Little Paradise”. In 1963 Campbell achieved her biggest hit with “I’m The Girl from Wolverton Mountain”, as an answer to the country hit of Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain.” The single reached the Top 40 on both pop and country singles chart that year. Then she followed this up with two more charting singles “Mother Please!” and “I Found a Love Oh What a Love,” which were both minor hits. In 1964 she retired from active performing and recording after her marriage to Troy Seals, a record producer from Atlantic Records.

Meet Jo Ann Campbell

American pop/R&B/country singer and songwriter Jo Ann Campbell was born on July 20, 1938 in Jacksonville, Florida. Campbell was enrolled in a music school at the early age of four and later attended Jacksonville’s Fletcher High School. From the latter, she participated as a drum majorette and. In 1954, Campbell was able to travel Europe, performing for free as a dancer with her colleagues. Two years after, Campbell moved to New York where she became a member of the Johnny Conrad Dancers, a modern jazz group. They appeared in some TV shows such as the Milton Berle Show and The Colgate Comedy Hour among others. By that time, she also formed her own group of dancers The Haydens but she eventually quit from dancing and decided to pursue a singing career.

Campbell’s singing career

Campbell signed a contract with RKO-Point Records in New York and released her first single “Where Ever You Go” b/w “I’m Coming Home Late Tonight.” But it failed to chart. After her performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, she received a recording contract with Eldorado Records in 1957. Campbell came up with the song “Come on Baby” which was her first Eldorado single. It was followed by “Wait a Minute” the following year. Around that time, she had an appearance on the Brooklyn Paramount and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Followed by an appearance in the film Go, Johnny Go where she sang two songs.

After releasing numerous unnoticeable singles on her previous label Gone, Campbell switched to ABC Records and issued “Kookie Little Paradise” in 1960. It was Campbell’s first charting single, peaking at #61 on the pop chart. In 1961, she had another movie appearance in Hey Let’s Twist. It featured several big artists during the decade including Joey Dee and the Starlighters, Teddy Randazzo and The Peppermint Loungers to name a few. In the summer of 1962, bigger success came in with “I’m The Girl from Wolverton Mountain.” The answer song for Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain” was Campbell’s biggest hit, climbing on the pop charts at #38. In 1963, it was followed by “Mother, Please!” The following year, Campbell married Troy Seals, Atlantic Records’ record producer. Billed as Jo Ann & Troy, they issued several records later that year and Campbell eventually left the music business.

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