b. USA. An effective singer of jazz and pop standards of her day, Cavanaugh was active mainly in the 40s and 50s. In 1946, she toured Europe with Don Redman’s band and can be heard at the concert recorded in Geneva singing ‘Stormy Weather’. Clearly, she took to Europe just as European audiences took to her and in the late 50s and 60s she was often to be heard in Germany. In 1958, she toured Germany in harness with ex-Duke Ellington trumpeter Nelson Williams, then resident in Paris, and a backing band of young German musicians. She also performed in Denmark and during a 1968 visit she sang on half the tracks on an album recorded by Teddy Wilson’s trio in Copenhagen, the other musicians being drummer Bjarne Rostvold and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen.
Although she was never as well known by the general public as her talent deserved, Cavanaugh was highly regarded by musicians. Interviewed in Melody Maker in 1954, pianist Mary Lou Williams recalled that the singer’s apartment was thought of as ‘an inspiring spot for musicians’. The pianist went on to state that Erroll Garner habitually spent his free time there, playing and composing, and revealed to her interviewer that Cavanaugh had confided that Garner ‘once sat gazing at a subdued table lamp... then composed something to fit the mood, which he titled ‘Lamplight’.’ Among Cavanaugh’s rather few record sessions was one with Garner in 1944 and another with Billy Kyle, in the late 30s. The resulting tracks appear on the respective leader’s sessions released on CD in Classics Records’ Chronological series.