Jane Olivor (born May 18, 1947) is a Jewish American cabaret singer. She was initially compared, often favorably, to Barbra Streisand and Édith Piaf.[1][2]


Olivor was born as Linda Cohen , [3]in Brooklyn, New York and reportedly grew up with a background in folk music, although her particular influences, she has claimed, were Johnny Mathis and Gene Pitney. Pitney would appear on her album, Love Decides.[4] She eased her way into the burgeoning New York City cabaret scene in the early 1970s. She appeared at the Reno Sweeney cabaret, owned and operated by Lewis Friedman and Eliot Hubbard and described by Vito Russo as "the center of the universe during the now-legendary cabaret revival of the early '70s".[5] It was there that she was discovered by Clive Davis, then President of the Columbia Records label, who was in the audience at her first appearance on its stage.[6] Although she appeared to be living out any performer's dream, she knew she wasn't fully prepared for the fame—one factor was that she did not really know the capabilities of her own voice. Her intimidation turned to debilitating stage fright.[6]

Early career

Olivor quickly caught on, playing such venues as Brothers & Sisters and The Ballroom. She became known, notably among the gay community, for her interpretations of famous songs such as "Some Enchanted Evening" from the Broadway musical South Pacific and "Come Softly to Me", the 1959 chart selection by The Fleetwoods.

Credited as "Janie Olivor, stage performer", an early performance is captured in the film Saturday Night at the Baths, an independent film shot at the infamous Continental Baths where (among others) Bette Midler got her start. In the film, historically important for its footage both of the bathhouse and of Olivor herself, Olivor sings an early version of "Pretty Girl." Written by Olivor with Kathy Wakefield, "Pretty Girl" would later appear on Olivor's In Concert and Safe Return recordings.

She became noticeable enough for the Columbia Records label and the William Morris Agency to sign her. Her debut album, First Night, released in 1976, was named Stereo Review's Album of the Year.[7][8]

In September 1977, her second album, Chasing Rainbows, was released to coincide with Olivor's debut at Carnegie Hall. The first pressing of the album contained a one-sided insert 45 RPM single of "Some Enchanted Evening", re-recorded by Olivor and produced by Charles Calello (the noted producer of Laura Nyro's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession album). Chasing Rainbows was produced by Tom Catalano. This album reached the Top 100 bestsellers, remaining in the charts for three months, and peaked at number 87 on the Billboard charts.[9]

Susan Casazza and Norman Dolph wrote and composed "Stay the Night" specifically for Olivor. As the title track of the 1978 Stay the Night album, the song was Olivor's best-selling recording for Columbia Records. Olivor's slowed-down version from this release of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine", with its sinewy saxophone and multi-tracked Olivor vocals, became the biggest-selling single of her career and charted into Billboard's Top 100, peaking at number 77.[10]

In between Stay the Night and the release of The Best Side Of Goodbye, Olivor found herself busy with concerts and also toured as a special guest of Johnny Mathis. Their duet, "The Last Time I Felt Like This," was the theme for the 1978 film Same Time, Next Year. The song, with music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award.[11]

The 51st Academy Awards ceremony in April 1979 (the "Oscar" telecast) marked the first time that all five of the nominated songs were performed by the artists who recorded them for the films themselves; Olivor and Mathis performed their duet live at the televised event.[12] Olivor's fourth album, The Best Side Of Goodbye, produced by Louie Shelton, Michael Masser, and Jason Darrow, was released in 1980 and climbed to number 58 on the Billboard charts.[9] Inexplicably, Columbia released the song "Don't Let Go Of Me" as the album's only single, rather than the title track which many felt could have propelled Olivor into the Top 100 again.

Jane Olivor in Concert, her first live album, was released in 1982 and included "Race to the End", a vocal version of the Vangelis theme from the film Chariots of Fire and, again, "Stay the Night" as its singles.

It is unknown whether Columbia Records has unreleased tracks recorded by Olivor during her contract years there, though it would be highly unusual for there not to be additional tracks that were not included in the released recordings. Certainly at the very least, there must be unreleased tracks from the In Concert recording (scarcely more than 30 minutes long), including the Stephen Schwartz arrangement of the medley "The Water is Wide"/"I Know Where I'm Going", singled out by fans and critics as one of the finest performances ever by Olivor.

Performing hiatus

In 1983, her own stage fright, nervousness at the sudden onrush of fame, and numerous unfavorable experiences with the music industry led Olivor to schedule a one-year hiatus from both performing and the heavy pressures of her too-fast fame. That hiatus would stretch to seven years when, in addition to her other challenges, her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer six months after they married.[8][13] Olivor put her career on hold to care for him until his death in 1986. In the meantime, she had disputes with Columbia Records over money.

Return to performing

After having sought and received treatment for depression in 1989,[13] Olivor returned to performing in 1990 and discovered that her fan base had remained loyal to her throughout her absence.[8] Gradually, she became more active, and in 2000 her first album in eighteen years, Love Decides, was released, followed in 2001 by Songs Of The Season.[8]

On November 11, 2003, Olivor appeared at the Berklee Performance Center at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, where she taped Safe Return, a live album of music spanning her entire career. She had recorded her first live album, Jane Olivor in Concert, in the same venue in 1982, but had not performed there since.[14] The concert was recorded as both an album and a DVD, and both were released in 2004.

In June 2004, Columbia Records released her greatest-hits collection, titled The Best Of Jane Olivor. It is a compilation of her best-known songs, including the Academy Award–nominated song The Last Time I Felt Like This with Johnny Mathis. This is the first time that the duet has been issued on a Jane Olivor album.

Charities and public services

Jane Olivor is a staunch supporter of animal rights, and she has taken an interest in the efforts of the Marin Humane Society.[7]


  • First Night, Columbia (USA), 1976
  • Chasing Rainbows, Columbia (USA), 1977
  • Stay The Night, Columbia (USA), 1978
  • The Best Side Of Goodbye, Columbia (USA), 1980
  • Jane Olivor in Concert, 1982
  • So Fine, Sony Special Products, 1995
  • Love Decides, Varèse Sarabande (USA), 2000
  • Songs Of The Season, Varèse Sarabande (USA), 2001
  • Safe Return (live), PS Classics, 2004
  • The Best Of Jane Olivor, Legacy Recordings, 2004


  1. Jane Olivor Conquered Fear, Loss to Resume Career - News Tribune, May 13, 1994
  2. "No More Vanishing Act"
  3. Some sources indicate her birth name was Jane Cohen
  4. Love Decides, allmusic, retrieved February 27, 2008
  5. Lewis M. Friedman, The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jonathan Frank, Interview with Jane Olivor at Talkin' Broadway Cabaret. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 2008 Jane Olivor on Coast to Coast Tickets. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Jane Olivor at, The Bazel Group. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Jane Olivor Billboard Albums at Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  10. Jane Olivor Billboard Singles at Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  11. Awards for Same Time, Next Year at IMDb Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  12. Academy Awards - 1979 at IMDb. Retrieved Retrieved January 20, 2008
  13. 13.0 13.1 Steven M. Housman, "Hardly a Plain Jane — Up Close and Very Personal With Jane Olivor"
  14. Liane Hansen, Jane Olivor Sings Again on 'Safe Return', Weekend Edition (audio), National Public Radio, June 27, 2004. Retrieved January 20, 2008.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Jane Olivor. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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