Dakota Staton was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on June 3, 1931. Although hers was not a musical family, Dakota claims to have known from early on that performing was her destiny. "When I was four years old, I started singing and dancing like Shirley Temple," she recalled in a recent interview. Staton further developed these budding abilities at Pittsburgh’s Filion School of Music. "When I was sixteen, I was in a stage show called Fantastic Rhythm. From that show, I was chosen to be a vocalist with the top band in the Pittsburgh area, Joe Wespray and his orchestra.