Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Jane Fitzgerald is known as “The First Lady of Song”. For decades, she was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States. She captivated audiences with her flexible, wide-ranging, and accurate voice. In addition to her beautiful voice, Ella was an impressive improviser. 

Ella made history when she won her first two Grammy’s (for best individual jazz performance and best female vocal performance)  in 1958. Not only was she the first African American woman to do so, but she was also one of the first vocalists. 

Throughout her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy’s and sold over 40 million albums. Additionally, she was the first African-American woman to perform at a Super Bowl halftime show.

Ella was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia. 

She grew up in a home with her mother,  step father and half-sister. They struggled financially, so she helped her family out by working as a messenger (running numbers) and acting as a lookout for a brothel. 

Her career took a turn for the best after she won a talent show at Apollo in 1934. 

Soon after she met Chick Webb and joined his group as a singer. After his death in 1939, Fitzgerald became the leader of the band and renamed it “Ella Fitzgerald”.

When she decided to part from her band she still had major success. she landed a deal with Decca records and made her film debut in a western comedy “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” . In the mid-1940s, her career really began to take off when she started working with Norman Granz. Around the same time she went on tour with a popular jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie.

When she decided to part from her band she still had major success. she landed a deal with Decca records and made her film debut in a western comedy “Ride ‘Em Cowboy” . In the mid-1940s, her career really began to take off when she started working with Norman Granz. Around the same time she went on tour with a popular jazz artist Dizzy Gillespie.

Unfortunately, her health began to decline by the 80’s. She experienced serious health problems and had been suffering from diabetes. The disease left her blind, and she had both legs amputated in 1994. Her last public performance was at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1991. She passed away on on June 15, 1996, at her home in Beverly Hills.

Ella’s legacy continues today long after her death. Her audience was so diverse that The United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative stamp celebrating the 90th anniversary of her birth. She has and continues to inspire people all across the world. 

Bibliography

Horn, Jazzmeia. “Ella Fitzgerald’s Signature Singing Style, Explained By Jazzmeia Horn.” NPR, NPR, 5 Sept. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/09/05/757840971/ella-fitzgeralds-signature-singing-style-explained-by-jazzmeia-horn.

“Ella Fitzgerald.” Ella Fitzgerald,

www.ellafitzgerald.com/.

Aidoo, Theodora. “Ella Fitzgerald, the First African-American Woman to Perform at a Super Bowl Halftime Show.” Face2Face Africa, 5 Feb. 2020, face2faceafrica.com/article/ella-fitzgerald-the-first-african-american-woman-to-perform-at-a-super-bowl-halftime-show.

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