The Artistry of… Anita O’Day

Highs and lows in voice and life. Defiant and fearless. She was known as “the Jezebel of Jazz.” Performances captivated fans and fellow artists alike.

An early duet with trumpet player Roy Eldridge shocked and was considered daring in the 1940s because she was a white singer singing with a black musician. Her trials as a female singer were endless, and her attitudes about how women were respected and seen were challenged endlessly.

Norman Granz signed Anita to his then new label, Verve, and 1955’s This Is Anita was the debut recording that became the label’s first LP. The 1960s saw O’Day battling an addiction to heroin that almost killed her with an overdose in 1967. She beat the addiction and wrote about the ordeal in her autobiography, High Times, Hard Times.

American author and music critic Will Friedwald has written for The Wall Street Journal and several New York-based papers including The New York Times, the Village Voice, Newsday and The Observer. Before O’Day’s passing in 2006, he wrote this about the singer in her later years: “She still has this excitement to her and this spontaneity. She can still turn an audience on.”

Artistry textured with highs and lows, defiance and fearlessness.

The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.