Born in Newport News, Virginia, and a direct descendant of Crazy Horse, the Indian Sioux warrior, Salena began singing in church and school before making her debut on life's
As a very young teenager, her career began at Manhattan's legendary Harlem Apollo, when
she won the amateur night singing "September Song". Salena grew up in New York in the company of musicians who would become the legends: Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Wes Montgomery, Chico Hamilton and Stan Getz - she actually sang and jammed with all of these people, and began making demonstration records for artists like Peggy Lee, Brenda Lee and Lena Horne, before getting her own recording contract.
Based in New York, with her own "Blues Extra Orchestra", Salena toured widely across the US with "King" Curtis in her band (whom she named), also working with Johnnie Ray,
Laverne Baker, Arthur Prysock, John Lee Hooker and Frankie Lyman. Salena also knew
Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie. Salena worked regularly at the famous venues of the Village Vanguard, Minton's Playhouse and Wells Supper Club.
Leonard Feather, the noted jazz critic for "Downbeat" magazine, named Salena as one of the "most promising newcomers of 1964", together with "Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme".
Glamorous and beautiful, with her distinctive voice and relaxed style, by then she had met
and sung with a breathtaking array of great jazz names. Her photo album shows her arm in arm with everyone from Betty Carter to Cab Calloway, Billy Eckstein, Vic Damone,
Lena Horne, Lionel Hampton, Billy Daniels, Eddie Fisher, Billy May and Jimmy Durante.
However, frustrated by the racism in her home country and wanting to expand her horizons, Salena bought a one way ticket to Madrid where, having sung one song at the "Whiskey and Jazz Club" she was immediately engaged to sing nightly with Dexter Gordon.
But London called, and Salena arrived in 1965. She was soon booked to appear for the first time at Ronnie Scott's for two weeks but, such was the audience reaction that she was held over for another week, and then another: eventually appearing for seven consecutive
weeks - still a record for the famous club after this time.
Over the last five decades, Salena Jones has been a central figure on the British jazz scene, where she also had her own London jazz club, and from her base here she has conquered the world. Salena has played everywhere, from Canada, throughout Europe, South Africa, South America, to the US and Asia, where she has appeared in Japan at least annually since 1978, and where she is a well loved artiste.
Salena's recording career has reflected her ability to both choose exciting repertoire and also to move beyond jazz boundaries. She has recorded collections of Porter, Lennon and McCartney and Carlos Jobim as well as Hollywood and Broadway musical numbers, making thirty-eight solo albums and twenty-two singles to date.
Salena has sung with Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Hank Jones, Ray Brown, Sarah Vaughan, Maynard Ferguson, Mark Murphy, Kenny Burrell, Dudley Moore, Roy Budd, and Toots Thielemans, Tom Jones, Antonio Carlos Jobim, the BBC Big Band and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst many well-known names.