Frances Wayne

Photo of Frances Wayne

Vocalist Frances Wayne be­gan to make a name for her­self in New York dur­ing 1942. She sang with Jerry Walds new out­fit at the Roseland Ballroom in March of that year, and the fol­low­ing month she ap­peared with Nick Jerret’s six-piece combo at Jive Canyon. In May, she joined Charlie Barnets or­ches­tra, where she stayed for four months, record­ing with the band on one of its clas­sic num­bers, That Old Black Magic.”

After leav­ing Barnet, Wayne hit the night­club cir­cuit for a year, some­times singing with Jerret, be­fore join­ing Woody Hermans Herd in late 1943. It’s with Herman that she sealed her fame and is best re­mem­bered. She stayed with the band for more than two years, per­form­ing on sev­eral of their most pop­u­lar num­bers.

Wayne’s vo­cal tal­ents put her in high de­mand dur­ing this pe­riod. In July 1945, Herman’s la­bel, Decca, agreed to lend her to Victor for one disk so that she could record with Duke Ellington. And in September of that year, Columbia, who was then mar­ket­ing Herman’s records, gave her per­mis­sion to cut solo ma­te­r­ial on the Musicraft la­bel. It was an un­usual de­ci­sion, and the first time that a singer had been al­lowed to record solo on an­other la­bel while still re­main­ing with their band. She cut four songs for Musicraft, backed by the or­ches­tra of Ralph Burns.

While with Herman, Wayne met trum­pet player Neal Hefti. The two fell in love and mar­ried on November 3, 1945, in Boston. Hefti quit the band in January 1946, and Wayne left the fol­low­ing month af­ter a dis­agree­ment on salary. She hit the night­club cir­cuit again, and in June 1947 signed a one-year deal with the Exclusive la­bel, where she recorded backed by the or­ches­tras of Buddy Baker, Les Robinson, and Hefti. She also ap­peared with Shorty Sherock’s or­ches­tra in their 1947 self-ti­tled mu­si­cal short.

In July 1951, Wayne and Hefti signed as a cou­ple to Coral Records. The la­bel planned to mar­ket them as a Mr. and Mrs. band, backed by stu­dio mu­si­cians, with Wayne also record­ing solo. They recorded to­gether un­til 1953, when Wayne de­cided to re­tire from the mu­sic busi­ness and have chil­dren. Pat O’Connor re­placed her as Hefti’s vo­cal­ist.

Wayne did­n’t stay re­tired for long how­ever. She re­turned to singing in the mid-1950s and went back on the night­club cir­cuit be­fore re­join­ing her hus­band as vo­cal­ist with his new jazz combo in August 1956. Wayne also recorded solo on Epic in 1956 and on Atlantic and Brunswick in 1957.

In 1960, the cou­ple moved to California, set­tling in Encino, and Wayne re­tired from singing again to take care of their two chil­dren. Hefti and Wayne were pre­sen­ters at the 1961 Grammy awards. Wayne, how­ever, never per­formed again ex­cept for a come­back ap­pear­ance in November 1974, af­ter their chil­dren had grown. She planned to con­tinue her singing ca­reer at that time, but it never ma­te­ri­al­ized.

Francis Wayne died from can­cer in 1978.


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  • That Old Black Magic
    Charlie Barnet (Frances Wayne), Decca (1942)
  • I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1943)
  • The Music Stopped
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1943)
  • Irresistible You
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1944)
  • Saturday Night (Is the Loneliest Night of the Week)
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1944)
  • Gee, It's Good to Hold You
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1945)
  • Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe
    Woody Herman (Frances Wayne), Decca (1945)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.


  1. The Online Discographical Project. Accessed 12 Nov. 2015.
  2. Carter. “On the Stand: Jerry Wald.” Billboard 21 Mar. 1942: 24.
  3. “On the Stand: Nick Jerret.” Billboard 4 Apr. 1942: 21.
  4. “Buffalo Grabs Sock 20G, Century 10G.” Billboard 23 May 1942: 18.
  5. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 19 Sep. 1942: 23.
  6. “Possibilities.” Billboard 10 Oct. 1942: 5.
  7. “Vaudeville Reviews.” Billboard 20 Nov. 1943: 20.
  8. “Popular Record Reviews.” Billboard 10 Jun. 1944: 19.
  9. “Frances Wayne Lend_Leased to Duke for Disk.” Billboard 28 Jul. 1945: 19.
  10. Billboard 8 Sep. 1945: 18.
  11. “Two for One.” Billboard 6 Oct. 1945: 23.
  12. “Marriages.” Billboard 17 Nov. 1945: 43.
  13. “Wayne Walk-Out Only Herd Change.” Billboard 9 Feb. 1946: 34.
  14. “Night Club Reviews: Blue Angel, New York.” Billboard 13 Jul. 1946: 40.
  15. “Music as Written.” Billboard 7 Jun. 1947: 35.
  16. “Music as Written.” Billboard 12 Jul. 1947: 36.
  17. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 30 Aug. 1947: 32.
  18. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 20 Sep. 1947: 41.
  19. “Advanced Record Releases.” Billboard 8 Nov. 1947: 32.
  20. “Music as Written.” Billboard 21 Feb. 1948: 35.
  21. “Coral Guns at Hefti Promotion.” Billboard 4 Aug. 1951: 12.
  22. “Music as Written.” Billboard 15 Sep. 1951: 18.
  23. “Music Popularity Charts.” Billboard 6 Sep. 1952: 62.
  24. “Album and LP Reviews.” Billboard 27 Jun. 1953: 40.
  25. “Neal Hefti Band at Hershey Saturday.” Gettysburg Times 17 Jul. 1953.
  26. Kilgallen, Dorothy. “The Voice of Broadway” Kentucky New Era [Hopkinsville, KY] 10 Aug. 1956: 4.
  27. Kilgallen, Dorothy. “The Voice of Broadway” Daytona Beach Morning Journal 6 Dec. 1956: 4.
  28. “Packaging Parlays Pay Off.” Billboard 28 Jul. 1956: 40.
  29. “Epic Pacts New Talent in Singles Field.” Billboard 18 Aug. 1956: 37.
  30. “Reviews and Ratings of New Jazz Albums.” Billboard 29 Apr. 1957: 37.
  31. “Label Extends Fall LP Deal.” Billboard 9 Sep. 1957: 15.
  32. “Music As Written.” Billboard 31 Oct. 1960: 63.
  33. “Accolading Runs Slick as Paint.” Billboard 17 Apr. 1961: 4.
  34. Feather, Leonard. “...and All That Jazz.” The Milwaukee Journal 25 Jun. 1966: 2.
  35. Feather, Leonard. “After films, concerts are new Hefti bag.” The Milwaukee Journal 13 Jan. 1975: 3.
  36. O'Brian, Jack. “Voice of Broadway.” Sarasota Journal 7 Mar. 1978:
  37. “Deaths.” Billboard 18 Feb. 1978: 74.
  38. “Neal Hefti Biography.” Billboard n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.