The teacher can be forgiven if she dismissed as an impossible dream the English schoolgirl’s declaration that she wanted to be a jazz singer when she grew up. Young Mary O’Brien was a gawky tomboy with thick spectacles — always ready for rough-and-tumble play with the neighborhood lads. She hardly matched the image of glamorous and sophisticated entertainers seen in the cinema and the picture magazines of the post-war years in London.
Nevertheless, Mary began pursuing her dream early in life. At the age of 11, she cut a demo record of Irving Berlin’s When That Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabama at a London music store.