When I interviewed Anita O'Day in North Hollywood in the 1990’s, she gave me a cool appraisal, then asked “Do You Know who I am?” Of course I knew who she was! It would have been more to the point if she’d asked who the heck I was! I’m always stunned when the supreme song stylist of the twentieth century is remembered as a cult figure instead of the musical giant. Although influenced by the great Billie Holliday (4 1/2 years her senior), Anita O’Day soon spun off into a rhythm all her own that left audiences breathless between 1941 and 2006.
The 2008 documentary “Anita O’Day the life of a Jazz Singer” shows her early work singing and jiving with Roy Eldredge in the Gene Krupa Band and continues right up to her life as a touring artist in the early part of this century. Affectionately made by fans and friends who became part of her professional circle, the film succeeds in capturing Anita O’Day at her best and worst and how she overcame her worst. Successfully battling heroin addiction is her proudest achievement.
Through it all, her glorious voice, her innovative scat-singing, her sense of humor and her razor sharp observations make this 92 minute tribute fly. One of the producers is old friend Nancy Field O’Connor who lost her son, Hugh, to drug addiction. Robbie Cavolina and Ian Mcrudden have done an affectionate honest job in celebrating Anita O’Day’s life and work. It’ll make you want to rush right out to see “Jazz On A Summer’s Day” or search for her best Verve records. If you’ve never seen or heard of Anita O’Day, get ready for a roller coaster ride.
© 2008 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/17/08
Anita O’Day the life of a Jazz Singer
USA - 2008