Irene’s older brother, Roy Kral, was a successful musician when Irene started singing professionally as a teenager. She sung with bands on tours led by Woody Herman and Chubby Jackson, former Herman bass player.
Irene joined Maynard Ferguson’s band in the late 1950s and sang with groups led by Stan Kenton and Shelly Manne.
Irene then started a solo career until her death at 46 years of age. She was a ballad singer who stated that Carmen McRae was one of her inspirations.
Irene was made more famous posthumously when Clint Eastwood used her recordings in his 1995 movie, The Bridges of Madison County.