Plutonic Group Syncs :: Singing The Blues by Anita O'Day

Singing The Blues

⥿ Singing The Blues ⥿


Anita O’Day was a hard-drinking, hard-swinging singer who could turn a song into pure jazz like no other. It’s hard to sum up a song stylist as unique as O’Day, but the title of her 1944 release does it pretty well: ‘Singing The Blues‘.

This exuberant wartime big band song, ‘Singing The Blues‘ opens with fanfare of lazy, dramatic horns and Anita’s crooned vocal. The song then morphs into a jaunty, up-tempo swing/jump jazz combo with honkin’ horns, and the strut of a slappin’ walking bass.

Anita O’Day first established herself as an exciting big band singer for Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton in the 1940s. She stood out simply by not being just a mere “canary,” – a girl singer at the front of the stage. O’Day insisted on being a full-fledged member of the band. She not only  performed in the band’s uniform, but she could swing and improvise as well as anyone in the horn section.

O’Day embraced the ethos of bebop and West Coast cool jazz perhaps more than any other jazz singer. But she shared some of the hard-living characteristics of her musician contemporaries, as well.

A signature part of Anita O’Day’s style was her ability to play with tempo. An O’Day chart rarely stays steady for its entire duration. She’ll start slow, then kick it into overdrive, before slowing down. going out of time completely, and then transitioning into a different swing feel altogether.

Singing The Blues‘ showcases the development of her talent. Notably doing so while working with two of the most important orchestras of the swing era. It was at this juncture that she honed her distinctive vocal styling as well as the sharp and individual image.


RIYL: June Christy, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn