IMDb > Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007)
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer
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Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer (2007) More at IMDbPro »

Videos (see all 4)
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer -- Clip: Travelin' light
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer -- Clip: Let's fall in love
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer -- Clip: Sweet Georgia Brown
Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer -- Clip: Let me off uptown


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Robbie Cavolina (co-director)
Ian McCrudden (co-director)
View company contact information for Anita O'Day: The Life of a Jazz Singer on IMDbPro.
A tribute to jazz diva Anita O'Day, completed just weeks before her death in November 2006. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
DVD Playhouse--July 2009
 (From The Hollywood Interview. 14 July 2009, 12:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Excellent, but one major flaw See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)
Anita O'Day ... Herself
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Louis Armstrong ... Himself (archive footage)

Buddy Bregman ... Himself

Dick Cavett ... Himself (archive footage)
Leonard Feather ... Himself
Will Friedwald ... Himself
Russell Garcia ... Himself (as Russ Garcia)
Willis Holman ... Himself (as Bill Holman)
Eddie Locke ... Himself
Johnny Mandel ... Himself

John Cameron Mitchell ... Himself
John Poole ... Himself (archive footage)
Denny Roach ... Himself

Annie Ross ... Herself
Billy Taylor ... Himself
George Wein ... Himself

Margaret Whiting ... Herself
Joe Wilder ... Himself
Gerald Wilson ... Himself

Directed by
Robbie Cavolina (co-director)
Ian McCrudden (co-director)
Writing credits
Robbie Cavolina  and
Ian McCrudden 

Produced by
Robbie Cavolina .... producer
Melissa Davis .... producer
Ian McCrudden .... producer
Nancy Fields O'Connor .... executive producer
Film Editing by
Robbie Cavolina 
Ian McCrudden 
Art Direction by
Robbie Cavolina 
Editorial Department
Jason Fabbro .... digital intermediate colorist
Marc Jozefowicz .... assistant editor
Gene Mendoza .... color timer
Other crew
Alan Eichler .... film footage
Sara Monacelli .... sales promotion manager

Production Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:90 min

Did You Know?

The film depicts Anita O'Day's emergence as a solo artist and her signing with Bob Thiele's Signature label by showing a cardboard cut-out of her with the slogan, "Hey, ops! I'm on Signature now!" "Ops" meant jukebox operators, who were crucial to the success of a record in the 1930's and 1940's. Not only did they buy a lot of records themselves, they also promoted it by putting it on their jukeboxes.See more »
Factual errors: In one of the interview clips, Anita O'Day says that composer-arranger Gary McFarland died soon after the release of the album they made together, "All the Sad Young Men." McFarland actually lived another 10 years after the 1961 release of his record with O'Day, and died on November 2, 1971.See more »
Movie Connections:
Features Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959)See more »


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Excellent, but one major flaw, 28 October 2011
Author: ecapital46 from Maplewood, NJ

You will find it difficult not to enjoy the story of Ms O'Day's life. She was the ultimate survivor; a solid representative of Tom Brokaw's 'Greatest Generation,' sans the uniformed military service. In the documentary she is shown singing a marvelous rendition of Billie Holiday's composition "Travelin' Light," an appropriate choice because they were birds of a feather in so many ways.

The major flaw in the documentary comes from the comments of a couple of individuals interviewed in the film - most notably the daughter of pianist Joe Albany - who give the impression that there is a correlation between the musical freedom in modern jazz (aka 'bebop') and the personal mental "freedom" that Ms O'Day and other musicians derived from narcotics use; that is, the narcotics somehow contributed to Ms O'Day's ability or effectiveness in singing in a "freer" modern style. It's understandable how this correlation can be mistakenly made. It is a charge that has plagued jazz musicians since the birth of the music. And, with the prominent number of modern jazz musicians who either did drugs or were alleged to, most noticeably the undisputed leader of modern jazz, Charlie Parker, one can see how easy it is to conclude there must be some truth that the drugs somehow aided the playing.

Pianist Joe Albany experienced a similar extended drug addiction as did Ms. O'Day, so I fully respect the opinion of his daughter regarding drug use by musicians during this era. She speaks from the inside. However, it was Parker himself on several well known occasions who dismissed the idea that drug use somehow enhanced or benefited his playing. In addition, there are too many examples of excellent and Hall of Fame level modern jazz musicians who did not succumb to drug use or addiction, yet were able to reach an exceptional playing proficiency.

Ms O'Day's drug use seems due more to issues haunting her from her fractured childhood and adult interpersonal relationships as well as the inevitable pressures that come with a career as a public performer, more so than anything having to do with trying to improve her musicianship. Not surprisingly, this is a consistent theme for drug use by all demographic and socio-economic groups, be they jazz musicians or not. For most of these individuals, the "freedom" drugs provide is from the anxieties and pain associated with bad relationships and work and living pressures - the drugs provide no direct aide to learning or playing the music.

Performance pressures are often underestimated, but can be insidious. Singer Jeri Southern, for example, suffered deteriorating health from extreme anxiety attacks resulting from her fear of performing in public. Her problem was so overwhelming that at age 35, while still near the height of her popularity, she completely retired from performing and returned home to Nebraska for a more quiet life away from the music performance stage. Maybe an argument can be made that once drugs have been used to suppress the anxieties and pain, the musician is then 'freer' to concentrate on the music unencumbered. Maybe so. But the implication that drug use directly aided in the improved facilitation of the music is inaccurate and should not have been implied in the film with regards to Ms O'Day, since it is a misnomer musicians have been battling for decades. Jazz musicians who took drugs largely did so for the same reasons others in our society took drugs: to suppress anxieties, pressures, and pain brought about by a variety of individual experiences.

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