Instruments: Band Leader
Date of Birth: 1907
Home: Birmingham, Alabama
Date of Death: August 7, 1998

When Joe Giattina and his band made their debut in 1952 at WBRC Radio in Birmingham, the young band leader says it was the worst night of his life. "When we saw the red light go on, the band froze and when we finally began playing, we sounded horrible".

Determined because of his genuine love for music, Giattina and his Bama Cardinals kept on broadcasting every Sunday night from 9:00 to 9:30, from 1925-1931. His career continued at the Casino Club in Pensacola through 1936. That's when he gave up music to raise a family.

After retiring from the insurance business more than four decades later, Giattina and the Bama Cardinals reunited in 1978 and today, are regarded as one of Birmingham's most popular big bands. Giattina is also credited with reviving big band swing music in Alabama.

Inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

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Joe Giattina’s love for music lasted from his days as first violinist with the Ensley High School orchestra through his days as leader of the popular Bama Cardinals Big Band, and continued even after he gave up the band December 31, 1992. Joe, who formed his first band in the 1930’s, hoped to make his living as a bandleader, but found that music would not support his family, so he took a position with Brown Service Insurance Company, later called Liberty National Insurance Company. He eventually became vice president of the company from which he retired in 1974.


The later Bama Cardinals, which started as a Shrine band playing free engagements, realized they needed a strong leader to get the band going, and Joe seemed like the obvious answer. He became their leader in 1978. The band was called Joe Giattina and his Bama Cardinals until he turned the band over to Don Cornutt in 1992, when the name was changed to The Joe Giattina Orchestra. Don led the band until 1997, when it was turned over to Bill Jeffries, the present leader.

Joe’s lovely wife, Grace, always first in his life—even above his music--passed away in 1994. After she had a stroke, Joe spent as much time as possible with her. They were married 60 years, and her death took its toll on Joe.

Even after retiring from the band, Joe remained in close contact with all the guys. The orchestra has been together 24 years, playing in Birmingham and surrounding cities for wedding receptions, dance clubs, deb parties, birthday celebrations, anniversary parties, and for many civic organizations. Many times they have ended their year in the Grand Ball Room at The Club atop Birmingham's Red Mountain or at some equally elegant venue.

Our CD is dedicated to Joe Giattina, who passed away August 1998. Through his love and devotion to big band music we are “Still Swinging.” We will always miss you, Joe.


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Joseph P. Giattina, Sr (born 1907 - died August 7, 1998) was a musician, bandleader and insurance executive. Giattina pursued his love of music as first violinist for the Ensley High School orchestra and formed his own big band, the Bama Cardinals immediately after graduation.

The band debuted on WBRC-AM in 1925 and played every Sunday evening through 1931. After that he moved to Pensacola and led a band at the Casino Club there until 1936, at which point he returned to Birmingham and took a job with the Brown Service Insurance Company (now Liberty National Life Insurance) to support a growing family. He rose through the ranks and retired as a vice-president in 1974.

In 1978 the members of a Shrine band contacted Giattina to help them raise their commercial profile. The new Joe Giattina and his Bama Cardinals debuted that year and began playing weddings, parties and and community events. Giattina remained with the band until his wife, Grace suffered a stroke. He handed over the baton to Don Cornutt on December 31, 1992 at their annual new year's performance in the grand ballroom at The Club on Red Mountain. The band was immediately renamed the Joe Giattina Orchestra in his honor.

Giattina died in August 1998. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1990. His son, Joseph P. Giattina, Jr is a prominent Birmingham architect.





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