The song “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” has been a favorite of mine since Tom and Jerry did the musical number one Saturday morning. What a fun cartoon! I especially like the stand up bass. (wink wink) Now, check out this version by Anita O’Day. Wow!
Many years after that Tom and Jerry Saturday morning, I was driving in the car when an interview with singer / vocalist Anita O’Day came on “Fresh Air”. I had never heard of Anita O’Day, but was immediately captivated by her sass and personality. She gave a challenging interview in “Anita O’Day: Revisiting a Classic Voice” and very much frustrated Terry Gross.
I laughed out loud several times, but it makes sense that a large talent would have a large personality that doesn’t exactly fit conventional conversation. You can probably quickly name at least five other music interviews that went awry at the journalist’s expense. James Brown comes to my mind right away.
The interview points out that Anita changed her last name to O’Day because, in pig Latin, O’Day means dough, and she hoped to make plenty of it. At least she had her priorities straight from the beginning. Ha!
Somewhere I read O’Day modeled her long, vocal solos after horn players. For instance, she would imitate a saxophone solo vocally. At the time, I imagine this was a radical idea. At the least, it was incredibly innovative and possibly came about as a result of necessity. She used what she had to entertain and, ultimately, to earn a living.
Evidently, O’Day had quite a few personal challenges along the way. Nonetheless, I have great respect for her music and accomplishments. Check out her Newport Jazz Festival performance and you will, too.
Anita O’Day – Sweet Georgia Brown, Tea for Two (Live @ Newport Jazz Festival 1958)
– More Info –
Artist / Musician / Band: Anita O’Day (Anita Belle Colton)
Style / Music Genre: Jazz, Swing, Big Band, Bebop, Vocals, Improvisation
From: Chicago, Illinois