What a difference O’Day made

Jazz singing legend Anita O’Day will fly north to participate in a tribute to her life and music, “What a Diff’rence O’Day Made”. She will be giving a performance of selected songs for one night only on April 10 at the Burton Auditorium on the Keele campus. The event is organized by the Office of the Master of Winter’s College in collaboration with the York University Music Students’ Association (YUMSA), with the generous support of Winter’s College, the Creative Arts Students’ Associaton (CASA) and the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Right: Jazz legend Anita O’Day

Influenced especially by Billie Holiday, Martha Raye, Charlie Parker and Zoot Sims, O’Day’s illustrious career included stints with Gene Krupa, Stan Kenton, Benny Goodman and Oscar Peterson. Her biggest hit was 1941’s Let Me Off Uptown, a historic duet with Roy Eldridge. Jazz enthusiasts have long valued her astounding skills as a rhythmically clever improviser devoted to the element of surprise. She will be accompanied by Canadian jazz luminaries Richard Whiteman, on piano; Artie Roth, on bass; Sundar Viswanathan, on sax; and Norman Marshall Villeneuve, on drums.

Starting at 6pm, the concert will also feature tribute songs by three unique voices in Canadian jazz: Rita di Ghent (a part-time jazz vocals instructor at York), Heather Bambrick and Laila Biali. Di Ghent is a bandleader-vocalist-composer-teacher-actor who has been called “a coveted Canadian treasure”. Bambrick is an award-winning vocalist admired for hosting the popular JAZZ.FM91 radio program “Sing Sing Sing”. Biali is a pianist-composer-vocalist who has recently released her first CD titled Introducing the Laila Biali Trio.

The concert will also feature music and dance performances by students from York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. There will be an unveiling of a portrait of Anita O’Day that was created by Victor Emmanuel, a student in York’s Visual Arts program.

Archival video footage of past performances by O’Day, as well as a new documentary titled Indestructable: The Life and Times of Anita O’Day – captured on film by Robbie Cavolina – will open and close the concert.

Tickets are $30 or $25 for students. They are available through the Winters College Master’s Office at ext. 77715, YUMSA at ext. 55254, or at the CASA office at 164A Goldfarb Centre, Keele campus. For more information on this special event, click here.