GIA MAIONE PRIMA Gia Maione Prima, a.k.a., JoAnn, 72, passed away Sept. 23, 2013, in Florida. She was an American singer and widow of singer Louis Prima. Gia was born May 20, 1941, in Roebling, N.J. From the early age of three, her sole interest was music. At age four, she began 17 years of piano and extensive vocal training under Alma Steedman, Choir Director at Westminster Choir College at Princeton University
. Upon graduation in June 1959 from Toms River High School, now known as Toms River High School South, in New Jersey, she received the National Arion Society Award in Music. With intent to attend Julliard School of Music in New York City, Gia worked at the local Howard Johnsons Restaurant, to begin saving money for the tuition and to continue her vocal and piano instruction. In late 1961, it came to Gia's attention that Louis Prima was conducting a nationwide search for a new vocalist. His tour brought him to the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, N.J., where Gia auditioned on Mother's Day 1962 and Louis immediately selected her. The next 12 years were a whirlwind of live regular performances, television shows and recordings: Las Vegas - Sahara Hotel, Sands Hotel, Tropicana Hotel; New York - Copacabana, Basin Street East, Ben Maksiks Town and Country; Philadelphia - Palumbo's; Chicago - Palmer House; television shows - Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Steve Lawrence and Art Linkletter; and recordings - 14 albums and numerous 45's for Capitol Records, Disney Records, DeLite Label, Brunswick Records and Prima label. Louis and Gia married February 12, 1963. Their union produced two children, Lena and Louis Jr. Professionally, Gia volunteered for many benefit charities and telethons and sponsored many golf tournaments to benefit charities. She was inducted in the Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame in 2004. She created the Louis Prima ASCAP Foundation Award and operated Prima Music, LLC, which releases previously unavailable Prima titles. The company also operates www.louisprima.com
and LGL Music Publishing Co. Gia Maione Prima was preceded in death by her husband, Louis Prima. She is survived by her two children, Lena Prima Fahey, Louis Prima Jr.; two grandchildren, Anthony Jordan Prima and Jacob Prima; sister, June Maione Kassel; and long-time companion, Frank Savannah. There will be a private service at Lakelawn Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans.