Joni James was born Giovanna Joan Carmella Babbo on Sept. 22, 1930 in Chicago, IL. In her early years, she studied drama & ballet. After high school she toured Canada with a dance group. After taking a job as a chorus girl, she decided to pursue a singing career. MGM executives saw her in a TV commercial and she was signed by MGM in 1952. She was the first American singer to record at Abbey Road Studios in England. Her fan base even included Asia and the Philippines.