b. 1923, Berkeley, California, USA. O’Flynn taught herself to play drums as a small child, eventually taking lessons while attending school. Fighting against the automatic resistance towards women in jazz, especially as a drummer, she eventually joined an all-female band led by Sally Banning. This was in 1939 and she later played in an otherwise all-male band co-led by Sally and George Banning. O’Flynn then formed her own all-male big band, which she led until the USA’s entry into World War II. After the war, and by that time based in New York, she played in various clubs, eventually becoming a member of a trio led by Mary Lou Williams that also included June Rotenberg. In the mid-50s O’Flynn became progressively more discouraged with the entrenched attitudes that militated against her as a woman in jazz, and also when racism affected the mixed-race bands with whom she sometimes worked. Early in the following decade, she quit the business. In the early 80s, however, she reportedly told Sally Placksin that she was tempted to return. A fine, supportive drummer with a fine ear for those she is accompanying, O’Flynn always preferred brushes, providing a discreet and subtle rhythmic underpinning to the bands in which she worked.
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