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Friday, 25 April 2014

Ella Fitzgerald born 25 April 1917

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917* – June 15, 1996), also known as "Lady Ella" and the "First Lady of Song", is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, she was noted for her purity of tone, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. She is widely considered to have been one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.
Her first dream was to be a dancer. Growing up in New York, she was inspired by "Snake Hips" Tucker, studying his serpentine moves and practicing them constantly with friends. Then, one fateful night at the Apollo Theater in 1934, the headlining Edwards Sisters brought down the house with their dancing. Amateur Hour began immediately after, and a 16-year-old Ella Fitzgerald stepped on stage, but was too intimidated to dance. Instead, she sang "Judy," silenced the awestruck crowd, and won first prize. It was the beginning of one of the most celebrated careers in music history.
Born in Newport News, Virginia in 1917, Ella Fitzgerald moved with her mother to New York after the death of her father. Living in Yonkers, Fitzgerald attended public school, where she sang in the glee club and received her musical education. After her early success at the Apollo, and as a popular performer at a number of other amateur venues, Fitzgerald was invited to join Chick Webb's band. Within a short while she was the star attraction, and had made a number hits including her trademark "A-tisket, A-tasket" (1938). After Webb's death in 1939, Fitzgerald led the band for three years. 
During her time with Webb's band, Fitzgerald recorded with a number of other musicians, including Benny Goodman. By the time she began her solo career in the mid-1940s, she was a well-respected figure throughout the music industry. Her vibrant and energetic voice showed an exceptional range and control. Performing with "Jazz at the Philharmonic," her popularity grew beyond the music world. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, she continued to perform as a jazz musician, but concentrated primarily on popular music. Rivaled only by Frank Sinatra, her recordings of work by Cole Porter, Ira and George Gershwin, and Rogers and Hart were incredibly successful.
One of the early "scat" performers, Fitzgerald found a place among the growing jazz innovators, making recordings with such greats as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Her true genius, however, was not formal innovation or deeper expression, but artistic renderings of the enthusiastic songs of her time. "I'm very shy, and I shy away from people," Ella once said. "But the moment I hit the stage, it's a different feeling. I get nerve from somewhere; maybe it's because it's something I love to do." More than anything, it is this love of performing that won her the hearts of millions throughout the world.
By the 1970s, she was performing with a trio headed by pianist Tommy Flanagan, and regularly with dozens of different symphony orchestras. Though her voice was not what it had been, Fitzgerald's enthusiasm and charisma continued to excite crowds well into the 1980s. In September of 1986, she underwent a quintuple by-pass surgery.
Amazingly, she survived this surgery but was then diagnosed with diabetes.
After a successful appearance in the United Kingdom in 1990, she retired due to ailing health. Two years later President Ronald Reagan awarded her the National Medal of Honor. During 1993 suffering continued health problems, her diabetes worsened and as a result, she had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee. Fitzgerald spent the last few years of her life in her Beverly Hills home. On June 15, 1996 she died at the age of seventy-eight.
Of Fitzgerald, Johnny Mathis said, "She was the best there ever was. Amongst all of us who sing, she was the best." From those early days on Harlem streets to the upper stratosphere of musical fame, Ella Fitzgerald's life was the quintessential American success story.
Through fifty-eight years of performing, thirteen Grammys and more than forty million records sold, she elevated swing, bebop, and ballads to their highest potential. She was, undeniably, the First Lady of Song. (info mainly American Masters) (*NB a very few sources give birthday as 17th April, but I have gone with the majority)

Live at the Cannes Jazz Festival France July 8, 1958

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For What Is This Thing Called Love: The Ultimate Collection of Her Greatest Hits, go here:

01/40. Ella Fitzgerald - What Is This Thing Called Love
02/40. Ella Fitzgerald - l've Got the World On a String
03/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Night and Day
04/40. Ella Fitzgerald - The Lady Is a Tramp
05/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I've Got You Under My Skin
06/40. Ella Fitzgerald - My Funny Valentine
07/40. Ella Fitzgerald - This Can't Be Love
08/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Have You Met Miss Jones?
09/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Dancing On the Ceiling
10/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)
11/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I Get a Kick Out of You
12/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Anything Goes
13/40. Ella Fitzgerald - All of You
14/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
15/40. Ella Fitzgerald - They Can't Take That Away from Me
16/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Shall We Dance
17/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Our Love Is Here to Stay
18/40. Ella Fitzgerald - My One and Only
19/40. Ella Fitzgerald - In a Sentimental Mood
20/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I've Got a Crush On You
21/40. Ella Fitzgerald - For You, for Me, for Evermore
22/40. Ella Fitzgerald - How Long Has This Been Going On?
23/40. Ella Fitzgerald - You Keep Coming Back Like a Song
24/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Aren't You Kind of Glad We Did
25/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Isn't It a Pity
26/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Now It Can Be Told
27/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Rockin' in Rhythm
28/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Somebody Loves Me
29/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues
30/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I'm Puttin' All My Eggs in One Basket
31/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Isn't It a Lovely Day
32/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Puttin' On the Ritz
33/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Just a-Sittin' and a'Rockin'
34/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Let's Kiss and Make Up
35/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
36/40. Ella Fitzgerald - How About Me?
37/40. Ella Fitzgerald - I Got Rhythm
38/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Let Yourself Go
39/40. Ella Fitzgerald - It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
40/40. Ella Fitzgerald - Love You Madly