Anita O’Day Day

October 18, 1919 – November 23, 2006

A tribute to the swinging jazz singer

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Singer Anita O’Day (originally Anita Belle Colton) was born on October 18, 1919 in Kansas, Missouri.

O’Day worked as a teenager during the Depression as a marathon dancer to raise money.

She developed her hip singing style while performing with Max Miller’s group in Chicago during 1939-40.

As a member of the Gene Krupa Orchestra during 1941-42, O’Day had hits with “Let Me Off Uptown,” “Thanks For The Boogie Ride,” “Massachusetts” and “Bolero At The Savoy.”

After the Krupa band broke up in 1943, O’Day was briefly with Woody Herman and spent a year with Stan Kenton (1944-45) where her hit was “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine.”

She returned to Krupa during 1945-46 (making popular recordings of “Opus No. 1” and “Boogie Blues”) and then started her solo career.

Her greatest years were during 1952-63 when she recorded regularly for Verve, displaying a strong voice (although one that was incapable of using vibrato), scatting at a high level, and recording one excellent album after another.

Unfortunately she became a heroin addict which almost resulted in her death in the mid-1960s.

O’Day successfully kicked that habit, made a comeback in the 1970s, and wrote a fascinating autobiography High Times, Hard Times.

Problems with alcohol led to her skills declining in the 1980s although she still made public appearances up until near the end which was for her in 2006.

Here is the highpoint of her career, her appearance at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, which was fortunately filmed and released as part of the movie Jazz On A Summer’s Day; Anita O’Day is lowdown on “Sweet Georgia Brown” and scats in dazzling fashion on “Tea For Two.”

-Scott Yanow

Three and a half year old Jazz on the Tube fan digging Anita O’Day


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