Anita O’Day The Life of a Jazz Singer

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Anita O’Day The Life of a Jazz Singer

A film by Robbie Cavolina & Ian McCrudden

Anita O’Day was one of the greatest of American jazz singers and this is her astonishing story—a journey of survival, and above all the endurance of her talent, told in a number of frank interviews with her and with those who knew her. Her career was long and eventful, spanning seven decades, her last album recorded when she was 84. This documentary of a legend was co-directed by Robbie Cavolina and Ian McCrudden who produced with Melissa Davis. Anita O’Day only ever wanted to be a singer and the film showcases performances that date back to the 50s with such artists as Gene Krupa, Roy Eldridge, Stan Kenton, Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael. She is shown teaching Billy Taylor how to be a jazz vocalist. She speaks candidly, always candidly, with Dick Cavett, Bryant Gumble and David Frost, with clips from interviews done on 60 Minutes and CBS This Morning. Bert Stern, commenting on his experience filming Anita perform Sweet Georgia Brown for his film Jazz on a Summer’s Day, said it was the greatest rendition of the song ever made. Anita was a musical genius and pioneer who broke reverse race barriers. She was commonly regarded as one of the top female artists of her time, together with Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday. The film portrays her as a woman who lived her life the way she wanted without ever looking back. She speaks openly about how she had to overcome great adversities, including a 20-year addiction to heroin and alcohol. She chose never to have children and married for only a brief period. She lived an often lonely life that was sustained only by her passion for music. Personalities talk about her quirky personality, while jazz critics and her few still living contemporaries speak of her extraordinary talent and how amazing it is that she continued to sing for so long. The film shows Anita on tour in Europe well into her eighties and her making that final recording, shortly before her death, the death of an icon.


Anita O’Day

Amy Albany

Buddy Bregman

Charles Britton

Dr. David Boska

Ken Druker

Joe Franklin

Will Friedwald

Russell Garcia

Jim Gavin

Freeman Gunter

Bill Holman

Karen Kramer

Eddie Locke

Johnny Mandel

John Cameron Mitchell

Mark Morris

John Pietranowicz

Denny Roche

Annie Ross

Mary (Bunny) Sellers

Maynard Sloate

Bert Stern

Dr. Billy Taylor

George Wein

Margaret Whiting

Joe Wilder

Gerald Wilson

Tribeca Film FestivalMelbourne Film Festival, JVC Newport & PlayboyJazz Festival, Athens Film Festival, Boston MFA Music on Film, Mill Valley Film Festival, Calgary Film Festival, Vancouver Film Festival, Barcelona In-Edit Music Festival, Miami Jazz Festival, Bologna Biografilm Festival, Palm SpringsInternational Film Festival,Montreal Film Festival,Florida Film Festival, Ear-Shot-Seattle Music film Festival, Rhode Island Film Festival, Library of CongressDocumentary Series, Unseen Film & Music Festival-MinneappolisSedona Film Festival,Williamstown Film Festival, Reel Music Film Festival-Portland, Nashville Film Festival, SydneyInternational Film Festival,New Zealand Film Festivals,Provincetown Film Festival

Reviews and Praise for the Documentary

Time Magazine Summer 2010

Los Angeles Times

LA weekly Brick’s Pick 2010

Time Out NY

Washington Post