Saturday, July 24, 2021


There are a lot singers like Peggy Lee and Jo Stafford that were icons of an era. However, for every Peggy Lee there is two or three singers who never really became popular. One such singer was Joan Edwards. Joan was born in New York City on February 13, 1919. Edwards' father was Ben Edwards, a song plugger. Music ran in her family; uncle Gus Edwards was a vaudeville entertainer, uncle Leo Edwards wrote music, and aunt Dorothy Edwards was a vocal teacher. Despite the family's show business background, she was urged to go in a different direction. In fact, Gus Edwards told her, "Stay out of show business."

As a child, Edwards had a heart murmur, and doctors advised her to start playing the piano "to keep her busy outside of school hours." She graduated from George Washington High School in Manhattan, where she directed the glee club. She went on to major in music at Hunter College, planning to be a teacher. However, her interest in singing and playing the piano won out, leading to a career in music.

Edwards' first job after finishing at Hunter College was performing with Rudy Vallee. Her guest appearance on his radio program was so successful that she toured the United States with Vallee and his orchestra for eight months. She also appeared with bandleader Paul Whiteman and with her uncle, vaudevillian Gus Edwards. A December 6, 1941, newspaper article reported that she had "played the leading vaudeville theaters in the country." In the early 1940s, she also was "appearing at one of Broadway's top night clubs."

Joan's early appearances on radio came "via small stations in New York City." Her first network appearance was on Fred Allen's program. Beginning March 3, 1941, Edwards had her own program, Girl About Town, on CBS. The 15-minute show was broadcast Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. Although her singing was featured, she played the piano for one song in each episode.

In December 1941, Edwards was selected as the new female soloist on Your Hit Parade. There she gained the most fame. Three years later, an article in Tune In magazine observed, "Joan Edwards sets something of a record, lasting through the regimes of three male singers -- Barry Wood, [Frank] Sinatra, [Lawrence] Tibbett -- in a three-year period." Her tenure on the program eventually reached five years, and the list of male singers' names grew to include Dick Todd and Johnny Mercer. She was dropped from Your Hit Parade in 1947 when the sponsor, American Tobacco Company, changed format, using guest stars rather than regular soloists.

In 1942, Edwards performed at the Copley-Plaza hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, with what one newspaper columnist called "the year's most unusual night-club contract." The time off was reserved so that she could fly to New York City to perform on Your Hit Parade on Saturdays. In 1950, she appeared on stage at the Capitol Theatre in a show with bandleader Russ Morgan and others.

Edwards was also a regular on The Danny Kaye Show  and on Songs for Sale. She was also heard on George Jessel's program, Duffy's Tavern, Here's to Romance, and Swing Session.

As the music industry begane to change, Edwards knew her singing was not going to continue on. On March 3, 1952, Edwards began a morning disc jockey program on WCBS-AM in New York City.

Edwards had her own program, The Joan Edwards Show, on the DuMont Television Network in 1950. The 15-minute program was broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday nights. She also was seen in a TV version of her Girl About Town radio program in 1941.

After she ended her singing career, she began composing. Edwards was co-composer of the Broadway musical Tickets, Please! (1950). She also "wrote scores for nightclub revues as well as many successful advertising jingles." Edwards and Lyn Duddy wrote the songs for Arthur Godfrey's songbook Arthur Godfrey's TV Calendar Songs, published 1953.

Edwards was married to Julius Schachter, a violinist who died in 1976. They had three daughters and one son. Joan Edwards died in Manhattan, New York, of an apparent heart attack on August 27, 1981. She was only 62, and if you have a chance to listen to any of her recordings please do so. She had a wonderful voice that deserves to be remembered...


  1. Thanks so much, David - I'm another David, the son of Joan and I'm especially appreciative of your going to the trouble to post this.

    1. Your Mom is truly underrated. I have many of her recordings, so reach out to me if I can help you with anything. I would love to talk to you more about this remarkable woman. My email is