Anna Ottilie Patterson was born in Comber, County Down, Northern Ireland, on 31 January 1932. She was the youngest child of four. Her father, Joseph Patterson, was from Northern Ireland, and her mother, Jūlija Jēgers, was from Latvia. They met in southern Russia. Ottilie's name is an Anglicised form of the Latvian name "Ottilja". Both sides of the family were musical, and Ottilie trained as a classical pianist from the age of eleven, but never received any formal training as a singer.