Justin Hayford specializes in reviving little-known songs from the 1930's and '40's. With his sell-out Rare Find series at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret in Chicago, he has rescued dozens of forgotten gems from ignoble and undeserved obscurity--songs like "You're Awful," "How Do You Do Without Me," "I'm Not So Bright" and "My Sweet Tooth Says I Wanna But My Wisdom Tooth Says No."
This kind of music is in his blood. His mother, Charlotte Cain, is the youngest of the singing Cain Sisters, who had their own radio program every Sunday morning on Chicago's WLS before moving up to the "Climalene Carnival" on NBC radio. Justin resisted singing as long as he could, first pursuing a degree in astrophysics at Northwestern University and ending up with a master's degree in performance studies. He spent several years directing in the theater (garnering a Jeff citation) and teaching political science at Northwestern before settling into careers as a journalist and AIDS advocate. Then, on his 33rd birthday, he succumbed to the inevitable, finding himself behind a piano singing his favorite old songs to his long-suffering friends. That impromptu gig was all the inspiration he needed to turn himself into a professional musician.
Since that day, Justin has performed to sold-out houses in Chicago at Toulouse on the Park, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Davenport's. He received the 2001 After Dark Award for Outstanding Cabaret Aritst.