Star Eyes

Let’s dip for a minute into the work of master bebop vocalist Anita O’Day. When she began her career during the big band era of the 1940’s, she presented herself as the ‘cool chick’ of her time, performing in casual attire instead of in evening dress. Her signature vocal style, so suited to syncopated music, was the result of a botched tonsillectomy that left her unable to sustain long notes. She earned her stripes as a hard-living jazz musician with a series of arrests for possession of heroin and marijuana and did a few short stretches of jail time in the early 50’s – before becoming widely well-known for her Verve recordings in the late 50’s and early 60’s. In the 1970’s, after a career disruption caused by drug abuse, she founded her own record label, which she named after her dog Emily, and resumed touring (she was very big in Japan.) She was an artist of unconventional style, who led a suitably unconventional life.

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