Ruth Olay, a jazz vocalist who performed with Duke Ellington and Benny Carter, died at her Desert Hot Springs home on Sept. 3 at the age of 97.

According to her publicist, Olay died of natural causes, and there are no current plans for a memorial service. She's survived by her daughter, Amy, from her first marriage to Lionel Olay and a son, Adam, from her marriage to music producer and manager Lee Magid.

Olay was born on July 1, 1924, in San Francisco to a Rabbi father — who eventually became head of research at Warner Brothers — and a professional choral singer mother who sang for film musicals and at the Hollywood Bowl. Olay was a piano prodigy during her childhood but became interested in singing due to her mother's work.

She worked as a secretary at Twenty-First Century Fox as a teenager while taking singing lessons with Florence Russell, who also taught actress and singer Dorothy Dandridge.

While performing at many jazz clubs in Los Angeles, she met Ivie Anderson, who was a vocalist for Duke Ellington's band. Anderson had come out of retirement and was singing every Sunday at the Streets of Paris club on Hollywood Boulevard. One night at the club, Olay made her live debut following an introduction by Anderson.

Olay landed her first professional job as a singer in jazz saxophonist Benny Carter's orchestra in 1951 using the moniker Rachel Davis, which was assigned to her by Carter to avoid troubles that might arise as a white Jewish woman traveling with a mostly black band.

Due to her dark complexion and short curly hair, it was assumed she was Black, but Olay was of Hungarian ancestry.
full article here: Jazz singer Ruth Olay, who performed with Duke Ellington, dies in Desert Hot Springs at 97

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