Skip to main content
Select Source:

Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–1996

Ella Fitzgerald 19181996

Jazz vocalist

Early Career

Jazz at the Philharmonic Tours

The Songboöks Collections

Her Most-Critical Critic

Received Many Honors

Selected discography

Sources

The First Lady of Song is the title Ella Fitzgerald was given by critics and fans, and it was well-deserved. With a career spanning 60 years, with hundreds of recordings to her credit, and with accolades that included the Kennedy Center honors, 14 Grammy awards, and a school of performing arts in her name, Fitzgerald was perhaps the worlds most celebrated and accomplished female vocalist. She was so loved by her many fans that they simply referred to her as Ella.

Fitzgerald was a versatile performer who was comfortable with several different musical styles. In upbeat jazz arrangements, her lively scat singingin which she embellished a melody with rapid nonsense syllables was often featured. She was also a lyrical interpreter of the classic love ballads of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and others. Although at her best with popular standards of the 1930s to 1950s, Fitzgerald recorded more contemporary tunes like Stevie Wonders You Are the Sunshine of My Life a standard part of her repertoire. Her recordings are continually reissued, bringing her music to new audiences and broadening her circle of admirers.

Early Career

Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1918. Her parents, William Fitzgerald and Temperance Williams Fitzgerald, separated their common-law marriage within a year of Ellas birth; shortly thereafter, she moved north with her mother, settling in Yonkers, near New York City. At first, young Ella aspired to be a dancer. However, after winning a talent competition at Harlems Apollo Theater in 1935, it became clear that singing would be her vocation; Ella won the contest with her rendition of The Object of My Affection, a tune made popular by singer Connee Boswell, her idol and chief influence. In the Apollo audience that night was jazzman Benny Carter; he was so taken with Fitzgeralds performance that he introduced her to bandleader Fletcher Henderson as a possible singer for his band. Henderson, however, was unimpressed, and nothing came of the audition.

Fitzgeralds first professional engagement came, soon after, at the Harlem Opera House, where she performed for a week. Tiny Bradshaws band was in the show, and, as Fitzgerald recalled in a 1965 Down Beat

At a Glance

Born April 25, 1918, in Newport News, VA; died June 15, 1996; married Benny Kornegay (a shipyard worker), 1941 (divorced); married Ray Brown (a jazz bassist), 1948 (divorced); children: Ray Brown, Jr.(adopted).

Career: Sang with Chick Webb Orchestra, beginning 1935, then took over band as Famous Orchestra, 1939-41; joined Jazz at the Philharmonic tours, 1946; performed at first Newport Jazz Festival, 1954; signed with Verve Records, 1955. Film appearances in Ride EmCowboy 1940; Pete Kellys Blues, 1955; St. Louis Blues, 1958; and Let No Man Write My Epitaph, 1960.

Member: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Awards: Elected to International Committee of the Foster Parents Plan for World Children, 1945; 14 Grammy awards; University of Marylands Ella Fitzgerald School of Performing Arts named, 1974; Kennedy Center Honors, 1979; named Woman of the Year, Harvard Universitys Hasty Pudding Club, 1982; Whitney Young Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons, 1984; National Medal of Arts, 1987; Commander of Arts and Letters award (France), 1990; Cole Porter Centennial Award, 1991; Medal of Freedom Award, 1992; honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, Talladega College, University of Southern California, and Yale University.

interview with Leonard Feather, Everyone had their coats on, and was ready to leave when Tiny introduced me. He said, Ladies and gentlemen, heres the young girl thats been winning all the contests, and they all came back and took off their coats and sat down again.

Following Fitzgerald on the Opera House program was drummer Chick Webb, with his band fronted by Bardu Ali. Ali agreed with Carter that Fitzgerald could be an asset to Webbs group, but Webb was not interested in auditioning a singer. As Fitzgerald recalled in Down Beat, He just didnt want a girl singer, so finally they hid me in his dressing room and forced him to listen. I only knew three songs, all the things Id heard Connee Boswell do: Judy, The Object of My Affection, and Believe It, Beloved. Chick didnt seem sold, but he agreed to take me on a one-nighter to Yale the next day. The following week we opened at the Savoy, and I guess you know the rest.

The rest was that Fitzgerald became a sensation with Webbs band, appearing as its featured singer. Her 1938 recording of A-tisket, A-tasket with the band was a tremendous hit for the 20-year-old vocalist, and remains one of her classic performances. After Webbs death in 1939, she took over the band and the group was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra. She led the band until 1941, when the wartime draft dissolved it.

Jazz at the Philharmonic Tours

Fitzgeralds career took off after World War II, when she joined impresario Norman Granzs Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts and toured internationally with prominent jazz instrumentalists. In Sid Colins biography, Ella, Granz praised Fitzgeralds energy and enthusiasm: Ill say I want her to sing eight tunes, and shell say, Dont you think thats too many? Lets make it six. And shell go out there and do six, and then if the audience wants fifty, shell stay for forty-four more. Its part of her whole approach to life. She just loves to sing.

Even though Fitzgerald was performing extensively on the JATP tours, her recording contract was with Decca, not with Granzs own label, Verve. She made a number of unmemorable recordings in the 1940s and 1950s, singing popular songs and novelty tunes with other Decca artistsmaterial that was beneath her capabilities and that contrasted strongly with the work she was doing with JATP. When Granz bought out her Decca contract in 1955, things began to change.

The Songboöks Collections

The pinnacle of Fitzgeralds career was her series of songbook recordings on the Verve label from 1956 to 1964. Accompanied by the orchestras of Nelson Riddle, Buddy Bregman, Billy May, and others, Fitzgerald sang dozens of tunes by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlensome of the best composers and lyricists in American music.

These recordings brought Fitzgerald admiration from mainstream audiences, and for many enthusiasts they are the last word in American popular song. In Henry Pleasantss The Great American Popular Singers, lyricist Ira Gershwin comments of his and brother Georges compositions, I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them. And John McDonough wrote in Down Beat that the songbooks would help change the way we think about popular music.

Fitzgeralds clear, resonant voice was always note-perfect. She did not convey painful or bitter emotions wella sunniness shone through her interpretations of even the most somber songsbut she more than made up for this with her innovative and facile approach to rhythm. Jazz critic Whitney Balliett observed in the New Yorker that what had happened in the Webb days was that the drummer had, through the sheer hypnotic power of his playing, unwittingly and permanently shaped her style: she still loves rhythm singing. For that reason, her lyrics, though carefully articulated, convey rhythm, not meaning and emotion.

Her Most-Critical Critic

Critics and others who knew Fitzgerald personally have commented on her capacity for self-doubt. Even with all of the acclaim that was lavished upon her, she was still prone to worry about how others felt about her singing. In her 1965 Down Beat interview, Fitzgerald attributed this to the fragile quality of fame: The music business is so funny. You hear somebody this year, and next year nothing happens. [W]hen you start out its a pleasure, but later on it becomes your livelihood. For anyone who loves music as much as I do, its a part of you, and you dont want to ever feel defeated.

In contrast to her active career as a performer, Fitzgerald led a quiet personal life. Her marriage to Bernie Kornegay in 1941 was annulled two years later. In 1948, she married jazz bassist Ray Brown, and in 1951, the couple adopted a baby boy, whom they named Raymond Brown, Jr. They were divorced a year later, and Fitzgerald raised the child on her own.

The list of musicians with whom Fitzgerald performed and recorded reads like a whos who of jazz: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Teddy Wilson, Roy Eldridge, Louis Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Clark Terry, and Joe Pass, among other luminaries. She was universally admired by her colleagues for her outstanding musicality. The jazz singer Mel Tormé spoke glowingly of her in his autobiography It Wasn t All Velvet: A horn player or a pianist presses the valves or the keys or slides the slide and what he puts into his instrument usually comes out very well in tune. A singer has to work doubly hard to emit those random notes in scat singing with perfect intonation. Well, I should say, all singers except Ella. Her notes float out in perfect pitch, effortless and, most important of all, swinging.

Received Many Honors

Since her early years with Chick Webbs band, Fitzgerald received recognition from many sources. She was named Best Female Singer in Doiün Beat magazines Readers Poll 21 times, including a record 18-consecutive-year run from 1953 to 1970. In 1984, she was presented with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples Whitney Young Award, and she received the Medal of Freedom Award from President George Bush in 1992. She held honorary degrees from several universities, and in 1974 the University of Maryland named its Ella Fitzgerald School of Performing Arts in her honor.

Health problems slowed Fitzgerald down in her later yearsshe underwent cataract surgery in 1971 and open-heart surgery in 1986but she continued to perform and record, albeit sporadically. In 1993, the vocalist celebrated her 75th birthday, and in tribute, the complete songbooks collections, as well as all her recordings with Chick Webb, were reissued on CD. In the same year, Fitzgerald had both legs amputated below the knee due to complications from diabetes, although this information was not released to the public until the following year. When disclosing the news in April of 1994, spokeswoman Mary Jane Outwater said that Fitzgerald was in really good shape and good spirits. Both professionally and personally, Ella was a survivor.

On June 15, 1996, Ella Fitzgerald died quietly at her Beverly Hills home. Shy and quiet until the end, she seemed slightly surprised and always delighted that people liked her music so much. She will be fondly remembered as one of Americas finest female vocalists.

Selected discography

All That Jazz, Pablo, 1989.

The Best Is Yet To Come, Pablo, 1982.

The Best of Ella Fitzgerald, Pablo, 1988.

Compact Jazz: Ella Fitzgerald Live, Verve, 1956-66.

Ella and Basie, Verve, 1963.

Ella and Oscar [with Oscar Peterson], Pablo, 1965.

Ella in London, Pablo, 1974.

The Songbooks [Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart], Verve, 1956-64, reissued as The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books, 1994.

Ella Fitzgerald First Lady of Song, Verve, 1993.

Sources

Books

Colin, Sid, Ella: The Life and Times of Ella Fitzgerald, Elm Tree, 1986.

Gourse, Leslie, Louis Children: American Jazz Singers, Morrow, 1984.,

Kliment, Bud, Ella Fitzgerald, Chelsea House, 1988.

Newsmakers, Gale, 1996.

Nicholson, Stuart, Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography, Scribners, 1994.

Pleasants, Henry, The Great American Popular Singers, Simon & Schuster, 1974.

Simon, George T., The Big Bands, fourth edition, Schirmer, 1981.

Torme, Mel, It Wasnt All Velvet, Viking, 1988.

Periodicals

Down Beat, November 18, 1965; June 1993, pp. 22-25.

Ebony, November 1961, pp. 131-39.

Esquire, November 1985, pp. 97-105.

Jet, May 6, 1991, p. 33; December 28, 1992, p. 64.

National Review, March 25, 1961, p. 194.

New York Times, April 25, 1993, p. H-31; November 28, 1993, H-32; April 12, 1994, p. B-3.

New Yorker, April 26, 1993, pp. 105-06.

Saturday Review, November 28, 1961, p. 51.

Time, November 27, 1964, pp. 86-88.

Other

Additional material was obtained from liner notes by Chris Albertson, The Cole Porter Songbook, 1976.

Joyce Harrison and David G. Oblender

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–1996." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–1996." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella-1918-1996

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–1996." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella-1918-1996

Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–

Ella Fitzgerald 1918

Jazz singer

At a Glance

Jazz at the Philharmonic Tours

The Songbooks Collections

Her Most-Critical Critic

Received Many Honors

Selected discography

Sources

The First Lady of Song is the title Ella Fitzgerald has been given by critics and fans, and it is well-deserved. With a career spanning 60 years, hundreds of recordings to her credit, and accolades that include the Kennedy Center honors, 14 Grammy awards, and a school of performing arts in her name, Fitzgerald is perhaps the worlds most celebrated and accomplished female vocalist. She is so loved by her many fans that they refer to her, with affection, merely as Ella.

Fitzgerald is a versatile performer who is comfortable with several musical styles. In upbeat jazz arrangements, her lively scat singingin which she embellishes a melody with rapid nonsense syllablesis often featured. She is also a lyrical interpreter of the classic love ballads of Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, and others. Although at her best with popular standards of the 1930s to 1950s, Fitzgerald has made more recent tunes like Stevie Wonders You Are the Sunshine of My Life a standard part of her repertoire. Her recordings are continually reissued, bringing her music to new audiences and broadening her circle of admirers.

Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1918; shortly thereafter, she moved north with her mother, settling in Yonkers, near New York City. At first, young Ella aspired to be a dancer. However, after winning a talent competition at Harlems Apollo Theater in 1935, it became clear that singing would be her vocation; Ella won the contest with her rendition of The Object of My Affection, a tune made popular by singer Connee Boswell, her idol and chief influence. In the Apollo audience that night was jazzman Benny Carter; he was so taken with Fitzgeralds performance that he introduced her to bandleader Fletcher Henderson as a possible singer for his band. Henderson, however, was unimpressed, and nothing came of the audition.

Fitzgeralds first professional engagement came soon after, at the Harlem Opera House, where she performed for a week. Tiny Bradshaws band was in the show, and, as Fitzgerald recalled in a 1965 Down Beat interview with Leonard Feather, Everyone had their coats on, and was ready to leave when Tiny introduced me. He said, Ladies and gentlemen, heres the young girl thats been winning all the contests, and they all came back and took off their coats and sat down again.

At a Glance

Born April 25, 1918, in Newport News, VA; married Benny Kornegay (a shipyard worker), 1939 (divorced); married Ray Brown (a jazz bassist), 1948 (divorced); children: Ray Brown, Jr. (adopted).

Sang with Chick Webb Orchestra, beginning 1935, then took over band as Famous Orchestra, 1939-41; joined Jazz at the Philharmonic tours, 1946; performed at first Newport Jazz Festival, 1954; signed with Verve Records, 1955. Film appearances in Ride Em Cowboy, 1940; Pete Kellys Blues, 1955; 5t Louis Blues, 1958; and Let No Man Write My Epitaph, 1960.

Member: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).

Awards: Elected to International Committee of the Foster Parents Plan for World Children, 1945; 14 Grammy awards; University of Marylands Ella Fitzgerald School of Performing Arts named, 1974; Kennedy Center Honors, 1979; named Woman of the Year, Harvard Universitys Hasty Pudding Club, 1982; Whitney Young Award, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 1984; National Medal of Arts, 1987; Commander of Arts and Letters award (France), 1990; Cole Porter Centennial Award, 1991; Medal of Freedom Award, 1992; honorary degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, Talladega College, University of Southern California, and Yale University.

Addresses: Office c/o Norman Granz, 451 North Canyon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Following Fitzgerald on the Opera House program was drummer Chick Webb, with his band fronted by Bardu Ali. Ali agreed with Carter that Fitzgerald could be an asset to Webbs group, but Webb was not interested in auditioning a singer. As Fitzgerald recalled in Down Beat, He just didnt want a girl singer, so finally they hid me in his dressing room and forced him to listen. I only knew three songs, all the things Id heard Connee Boswell do: Judy, The Object of My Affection, and Believe It, Beloved Chick didnt seem sold, but he agreed to take me on a one-nighter to Yale the next day. The following week we opened at the Savoy, and I guess you know the rest.

The rest was that Fitzgerald became a sensation with Webbs band, appearing as its featured singer. Her 1938 recording of A-tisket, A-tasket with the band was a tremendous hit for the 20-year-old vocalist and remains one of her classic performances. After Webbs death in 1939, she took over the band and the group was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra. She led the band until 1941, when the wartime draft dissolved it.

Jazz at the Philharmonic Tours

Fitzgeralds career took off after World War II, when she joined impresario Norman Granzs Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts and toured internationally with prominent jazz instrumentalists. In Sid Colins biography, Ella, Granz praised Fitzgeralds energy and enthusiasm: Ill say I want her to sing eight tunes, and shell say, Dont you think thats too many? Lets make it six And shell go out there and do six, and then if the audience wants fifty, shell stay for forty-four more. Its part of her whole approach to life. She just loves to sing.

Even though Fitzgerald was performing extensively on the JATP tours, her recording contract was with Decca, not with Granzs own label, Verve. She made a number of unmemorable recordings in the 1940s and 1950s, singing popular songs and novelty tunes with other Decca artistsmaterial that was beneath her capabilities and that contrasted strongly with the work she was doing with JATP. When Granz bought out her Decca contract in 1955, things began to change.

The Songbooks Collections

The pinnacle of Fitzgeralds career was her series of songbook recordings on the Verve label from 1956 to 1964. Accompanied by the orchestras of Nelson Riddle, Buddy Bregman, Billy May, and others, Fitzgerald sang dozens of tunes by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern, and Harold Arlensome of the best composers and lyricists in American music.

These recordings brought Fitzgerald admiration from mainstream audiences, and for many enthusiasts they are the last word in American popular song. In Henry Pleasantss The Great American Popular Singers, lyricist Ira Gershwin comments of his and brother Georges compositions, I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them. And John McDonough wrote in Down Beat that the songbooks would help change the way we think about popular music.

Fitzgeralds clear, resonant voice is always note-perfect. She does not convey painful or bitter emotions wella sunniness shines through her interpretations of even the most somber songsbut she more than makes up for this with her innovative and facile approach to rhythm. Jazz critic Whitney Balliett observed in the New Yorker that what had happened in the Webb days was that the drummer had, through the sheer hypnotic power of his playing, unwittingly and permanently shaped her style: she still loves rhythm singing. For that reason, her lyrics, though carefully articulated, convey rhythm, not meaning and emotion.

Her Most-Critical Critic

Critics and others who have known Fitzgerald personally have commented on her capacity for self-doubt. Even with all of the acclaim that has been lavished upon her, she is still prone to worry about how others feel about her singing. In her 1965 Down Beat interview, Fitzgerald attributed this to the fragile quality of fame: The music business is so funny. You hear somebody this year, and next year nothing happens. [W]hen you start out its a pleasure, but later on it becomes your livelihood. For anyone who loves music as much as I do, its a part of you, and you dont want to ever feel defeated.

In contrast to her active career as a performer, Fitzgerald has led a quiet personal life. A marriage to a shipyard worker in 1939 was annulled only days later. In 1948, she married jazz bassist Ray Brown, and in 1951, the couple adopted a baby boy, whom they named Raymond Brown, Jr. They were divorced one year later, and Fitzgerald raised the child on her own.

The list of musicians with whom Fitzgerald has performed and recorded reads like a whos who of jazz: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Teddy Wilson, Roy Eldridge, Louis Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Clark Terry, and Joe Pass, among other luminaries. She is universally admired by her colleagues for her outstanding musicality. The jazz singer Mel Torme spoke glowingly of her in his autobiography It Wasnt All Velvet: A horn player or a pianist presses the valves or the keys or slides the slide and what he puts into his instrument usually comes out very well in tune. A singer has to work doubly hard to emit those random notes in scat singing with perfect intonation. Well, I should say, all singers except Ella. Her notes float out in perfect pitch, effortless, and most important of all, swinging.

Received Many Honors

Since her early years with Chick Webbs band, Fitzgerald has received recognition from many sources. She has been named Best Female Singer in Down Beat magazines readers poll 21 times, including a record 18-consecutive-year run from 1953 to 1970. In 1984, she was presented with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples Whitney Young Award, and she received the Medal of Freedom Award from then-President George Bush in 1992. She holds honorary degrees from several universities, and in 1974 the University of Maryland named its Ella Fitzgerald School of Performing Arts in her honor.

Health problems slowed Fitzgerald down in her later yearsshe underwent cataract surgery in 1971 and open-heart surgery in 1986but she continued to perform and record, albeit sporadically. In 1993, the vocalist celebrated her 75th birthday, and in tribute, the complete songbooks collections, as well as all her recordings with Chick Webb, were reissued on CD. In the same year, Fitzgerald had both legs amputated below the knee due to complications from diabetes, although this information was not released to the public until the following year. When disclosing the news in April of 1994, spokeswoman Mary Jane Outwater said that Fitzgerald was in really good shape and good spirits. Both professionally and personally, Ella is a survivor.

Selected discography

Compact Jazz: Ella Fitzgerald Live, Verve, 1956-66.

Ella and Basie, Verve, 1963.

Ella and Oscar [with Oscar Peterson], Pablo, 1965.

Ella in London, Pablo, 1974.

The Best Is Yet To Come, Pablo, 1982.

The Best of Ella Fitzgerald, Pablo, 1988.

All That Jazz, Pablo, 1989.

Ella Fitzgerald First Lady of Song, Verve, 1993.

The Songbooks [Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart], Verve, 1956-64, reissued as The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books, 1994.

Sources

Books

Colin, Sid, Ella: The Life and Times of Ella Fitzgerald, Elm Tree, 1986.

Gourse, Leslie, Louis Children: American Jazz Singers, Morrow, 1984.

Kliment, Bud, Ella Fitzgerald, Chelsea House, 1988.

Nicholson, Stuart, Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography, Scribners, 1994.

Pleasants, Henry, The Great American Popular Singers, Simon & Schuster, 1974.

Simon, George T., The Big Bands, fourth edition, Schirmer, 1981.

Torme, Mei, It Wasnt All Velvet, Viking, 1988.

Periodicals

Down Beat, November 18, 1965; June 1993, pp. 22-5.

Ebony, November 1961, pp. 131-39.

Esquire, November 1985, pp. 97-105.

Jet, May 6, 1991, p. 33; December 28, 1992, p. 64.

National Review, March 25, 1961, p. 194.

New York Times, April 25, 1993, p. H-31; November 28, 1993, p. H-32; April 12, 1994, p. B-3.

New Yorker, April 26, 1993, pp. 105-6.

Saturday Review, November 28, 1961, p. 51.

Time, November 27, 1964, pp. 86-8.

Additional material was obtained from liner notes by Chris Albertson, The Cole Porter Songbook, 1976.

Joyce Harrison

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella-1918

"Fitzgerald, Ella 1918–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella-1918

Fitzgerald, Ella

Ella Fitzgerald

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

All night long, Ella was taking risks right and left with her scats. In God Bless the Child, she pulled out high operatic hoots, angry belts, even trumpet-like whines woo-wooed with a wa-wa mute. In Honeysuckle Rose, she segued from high little yelps to crazy syllables that tumbled over each other like kids just released from detention. That review by Pamela Bloom might have been written at any time during the 55 years in which Ella Fitzgerald has been delighting critics and audiences. But it was written about her February 11, 1989, sold-out concert at Radio City Music Hall. Ella Fitzgerald, the first lady of song, is still performing and still taking risks.

Born in Newport News, Virginia, Fitzgerald was raised in Yonkers, New York. Although early publicity biographies refered to her as living and being educated in an orphanage, she has credited an aunt, Virginia Williams, with her upbringing. Fitzgeralds entry into show business came in 1934 when she was discovered in an amateur contest at Harlems famed Apollo Theater singing Judy, Object of My Affection. Her voice, which she modelled after Connee Boswell records, caught the attention of conductor Chick Webb who trained it slowly before engaging her to sing with his band. From 1935 until Webbs death in 1939, she performed with him at Levaggis, the Cotton Club, and other famous night clubs and cabarets. Deccas recording of Webbs band with Fitzgerald singing Love and Kisses in 1935 is considered her first single. She did over 230 recordings for Decca in those early years, some of which have been re-issued in an anthology format by MCA as The Best of Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Swings the Band, and Princess of the Savoy. Their recording of A-tisket, A-tasket, (1938) became her first of many hit singles. That song also brought Fitzgerald membership into ASCAP in 1940. Fitzgerald led Webbs band until World War II decimated its ranks.

After the War ended, she began a long association with promoter/manager Norman Granz, with whose Jazz at the Philhamonic concerts she performed from 1946 to 1954. Her scatted performances of the pop standards How High the Moon and Oh, Lady Be Good in 1947 brought her to a wider audience that recognized her as a unique artist, not simply a band singer. She recorded almost exclusively for Granzs label, Verve, after 1955. Her most famous albums for Verve have been the continuing series of Songbooks dedicated to the works of Americas great composers and lyricists, among them, Cole Porter (1956), Rodgers and Hart (1956), Duke Ellington (1956), George and Ira Gershwin (1958-1959), Irving Berlin (1958), and Harold Arlen (1960). Each contains a mix of well-known and obscure songs. Ira Gershwin is often quoted as saying I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald

For the Record

Born April 25, 1918, in Newport News, Va.; orphaned young, and raised by aunt, Virginia Williams; married Bernie Kornegay (a shipyard worker), 1941 (divorced, 1943); married Ray Brown (a jazz musician), 1949 (divorced, 1953); children: (second marriage) Ray, Jr.

Singer with Chick Webb Orchestra, 1934-39; has toured throughout the world and recorded with a number of well-known bandleaders, including Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Earl Hines, and Nelson Riddle; has made numerous television appearances; performed in film Pete Kellys Blues, 1955.

Awards: Twelve Grammy Awards for recordings; Trustees Award from National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1967; has won many awards from various magazine readers polls and critics polls; American Music Award, 1978; honorary doctorate from Yale University, 1986; National Medal of the Arts, 1987.

Addresses: Agent Norman Granz, Salle Productions, 451 North Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

sing them. The Songbooks are also noted for their superb arrangements by Paul Weston and Nelson Riddle. All of them are being re-issued on CD.

Fitzgerald has recorded almost 150 albums in total. Some were recorded live at jazz festivals in the United States or Europe, among them, the popular Montreux 77 (on Pablo) with the Tommy Flanagan Trio. Recordings were built around styles like Verves Songs in a Mellow Mood or Sweet and Hot. Other albums feature her with specific jazz artists or ensembles, such as Verves Ella and Louis and Ella and Basie. Fitzgerald recordings seem to have life spans unlike any other artistsa re-issue of her 1958 Live in Rome was the top-selling jazz album of 1988. Estimates of her total sales range upwards from 25, 000, 000.

Fitzgeralds career progressed steadily with frequent tours of Europe and the Orient, where she is revered, annual concerts in New York, appearances at the Newport (now Kool and JVC in New York) Jazz Festivals and a constant schedule of recordings. Although almost universally considered the finest solo song stylist in jazz, she has been able to adapt her performances to a surprising variety of bands and combos with different instrumentations and approaches to music. Among the many greats of jazz with whose ensembles she has played are Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Errol Garner, Earl Hines, and Oscar Peterson. She seldom plays club dates, although in the 1950s, she was often booked into large hotel lounges with the Count Basie Orchestra. A contemporary review described that atmosphere in the usually classy Starlight Roof of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel during one of their engagements: The joint was jumpin last night. Pardon me, I meant to write the performers were received graciously last evening and with considerable enthusiams. But when Ella Fitzgerald sings and Count Basie plays his hot piano, the joint jumps. Cause when Ella throbs those blues and the Count picks his way among those 88 keys, somethings gotta give. Jazz is jazz and the beat is the beat. Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie have got both.

Fitzgerald appeared in the 1958 film Pete Kellys Blues and sang Hard Hearted Hannah and its title song. She was one of the first black jazz performers to be engaged for a television appearance in the 1950s and has since appeared over 200 times on American and European television.

Difficulties with a detached retina slowed her down briefly in the 1970s, and she now performs with thick glasses that allow her to make contact with the audience. Fitzgerald had open-heart surgery in 1986 but returned to concertizing soon after with a combo that generally includes Paul Smith on piano, Keter Betts on bass, and drummer Jeff Hamilton.

Her approach to the vocal repertory is simpleshe maintains classics and continually adds the best songs of each new style of pop. Fitzgerald has always been celebrated for her willingness to experiment with new genres and frequently introduces them to her jazz audiences. Her Stone Cold Dead in the Market, (with bandleader Louis Jourdan) was mainstream jazzs first Calypso hit. She was among the first to integrate both Bossa Nova and the Beatles into her repertory in the early 1960s. A review of a 1966 engagement with Earl (Fatha) Hines described her performances of jazz standards Sweet Georgia Brown, Lover Man, and Dont Be That Way and stated that she changes pace again with the all-out swinging Boots are Made for Walking, a soup-up hit that calls for an encore. As in her Songbook recordings, she presents the standards of American love songs, from Arlen to Rodgers but now also adds the music of Kurt Weill and Stevie Wonder, whose Sunshine of My Life has become almost her new signature tune. She also celebrates the greats of jazz in her concerts by re-interpreting their signature tunesin her February 1989 concert, as Bloom wrote, she presented the Billie Holliday classic God Bless the Child and Fats Waller/Andy Razafs Honeysuckle Rose.

Fitzgerald has won nearly every award imaginable for her live and recorded performances, from 12 Grammys to the Kennedy Center Award to an honorary doctorate in music from Yale University. Her status as a jazz artist and as a singer led to some convoluted Grammy catagorizations. During a four-year stretch from 1958 to 1962, she won Best Vocal Performance (female) for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song book (1958), But Not For Me (1959), Mack the Knife (1960), Mack the KnifeElla in Berlin (1960), and Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson Riddle (1962); and she won Best Jazz Performance awards for Ella Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book (1958) and Ella Sings Lightly (1959). Fitzgerald was also given the NARAS Trustees Award (The Bing Crosby Award) for lifetime achievement in all possible categories in 1967. She holds many records that may never be bested, among them, her 18 consecutive years as best female jazz singer in the down beat magazine poll.

Duke Ellington once described Ella Fitzgeralds voice in Life magazine: She captures you somewhere through the facets of your intangibles. Other jazz and pop greats have tried to explain its qualities and her appeal on stage as well. In a February 1989 article in the New York Post, Lee Jeske interviewed Tonny Bennett, Mel Torme, and Pegy Lee about Fitzgerald. Shes the best singer I ever heard, said Bennett. Absolutely. Torme agreed: When I was looking for somebody to hang my vocal hat on, she was my number one influence. Ella was the absolute epitome of everything that Ive ever believed in or loved as far as popular singing was concerned. And Lee said, She has a magnificent instrument and she uses it to the best advantage. Jeske concluded that three reactions are most often cited by Fitzgeralds colleaguesTheir awe of her talent, their awe of her as a person (the words genuine lady come up again and again), and their respect for her unabashed love of singing.

Selected discography

Songs in a Mellow Mood, Verve.

Sweet and Hot, Verve.

Ella and Louis, Verve.

Ella and Basie, Verve.

Live in Rome, 1958.

Ella Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, Verve, 1958.

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song book, Verve, 1958.

Ella Sings Lightly, 1959.

But Not for Me, 1959.

Mack the KnifeElla in Berlin, Verve, 1960.

Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson Riddle, 1962.

Montreaux 77, Pablo, 1978.

Princess of the Savoy (1934-39 Decca recordings), MCA, 1988.

Ella Swings the Band (1936-39 Decca recordings), MCA, 1988.

The Best of Ella Fitzgerald (1938-54 Decca recordings), MCA, 1988.

Sources

Life, December 22, 1958.

New York Post, February 9, 1989; February 13, 1989.

New York Times, June 15, 1986; September 5, 1986; June 26, 1987.

New York World, June 5, 1956.

New York World-Journal-Tribune, November 10, 1966.

Barbara Stratyner

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella

"Fitzgerald, Ella." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/fitzgerald-ella

Fitzgerald, Ella

Ella Fitzgerald

Born: April 25, 1918
Newport News, Virginia
Died: June 15, 1996
Beverly Hills, California

African American singer

Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most exciting jazz singers of her time and, because of the naturalness of her style, had a popular appeal that extended far beyond the borders of jazz.

A rising star

Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1918, in Newport News, Virginia, but she spent her youth just outside New York City in Yonkers, New York, and received her musical education in public schools. During elementary school she began singing at her local church, the Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church. At fifteen her mother died and she was cared for by her aunt in Harlem, a black neighborhood in New York that was rich with jazz music.

When only sixteen, she received her first big break at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, when she won an amateur-night contest and impressed saxophonist-bandleader Benny Carter (1907). He recommended her to drummer-bandleader Chick Webb (c. 19001939), who hired her in 1935. She soon became a recording star with the band, and her own composition "A-tisket, A-tasket" (1938) was such a smash hit that the song became her trademark for many years thereafter. When Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald assumed leadership of the band for the next year.

"The First Lady of Song"

By 1940 Fitzgerald was recognized throughout the music world as a vocal wondera singer with clarity of tone, flexibility of range, fluency of rhythm, and, above all, a talent for improvisation (to make up without practice) that was equally effective on ballads and faster tunes. Although for a long time she had a better reputation among fellow musicians than with the general public, this changed soon after she joined Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) in 1946. She made annual tours with the group and was always the concert favorite. Three of her unfailing show-stoppers were "Oh, Lady Be Good," "Stomping at the Savoy," and "How High the Moon." Each would begin at a medium tempo and then speed up as Fitzgerald moved up-tempo and "scatted" (that is, sang harmonic variations of the melody in nonsense syllables). The huge JATP crowds always responded well.

By the early 1950s Fitzgerald's domination of fans's and critics's polls was absolute. In fact, she won the Down Beat readers' poll every year from 1953 to 1970 and became known as "The First Lady of Song." In 1955 she ended her twenty-year recording relationship with Decca in order to record for Norman Granz's Verve label. She proceeded to produce a series of legendary "Songbook" albums, each devoted to the compositions of a great songwriter or songwriting team, such as the Gershwins (George, 18981937; Ira, 18961983), Cole Porter (18911964), Irving Berlin (18881989), and Duke Ellington (18991974). The lush orchestrations allowed Fitzgerald to display the classy popsinger side of herself. In the two-volume Ellington set, her jazzier self moved aside for the melodist in her.

Touring the world

Under Granz's personal management Fitzgerald also began to play choice hotel jobs and made her first feature film appearance in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). In 1957 she worked at the Copacabana in New York City and gave concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1958, in the company of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, she gave a concert at Carnegie Hall as part of an extended European and United States tour with the band. In the early 1960s she continued to work the big hotel circuitthe Flamingo in Las Vegas, the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and the Americana in New York City. She also continued to tour Europe, Latin America, and Japan with the Oscar Peterson (1925) trio, which was three-fourths of Granz's JATP house rhythm section. In 1965 and 1966 she was reunited with Ellington for another tour and record date.

Fitzgerald was always blessed with superb musicians accompanying her, from the full orchestral support of Chick Webb and Duke Ellington to the smaller JATP ensembles. In 1968 she teamed up with yet another, the magnificent pianist Tommy Flanagan, who headed a trio that served her into the mid-1970s. In 1971 Fitzgerald had serious eye surgery, but within a year she was performing again. Her singing, however, began to show evidence of decline: the voice that was once an instrument of natural beauty and effortless grace became a bit thin and strained. Nevertheless, so great was her talent that she continued to excite concert audiences and to record effectively. She appeared after the mid-1960s with over fifty symphonic orchestras in the United States.

A large, pleasant-looking woman with a surprisingly girlish speaking voice, Ella Fitzgerald sometimes forgot lyrics. But the audiences loved it and delighted in her ability to work her way out of these potentially embarrassing moments on stage. Unlike some other great jazz singers, like Billie Holiday (19151959) and Anita O'Day, Fitzgerald avoided falling into drug addiction. She was married twice. The first marriage, to Bernie Kornegay in 1941, was annulled (made invalid) two years later. The second, to bassist Ray Brown (1926) in 1948, ended in divorce in 1952 (they had one son).

The legacy of Ella

Was Ella Fitzgerald essentially a jazz singer or a pop singer? Jazz purists say that she was often glossy and predictable and that she lacked the emotional depth of Billie Holiday, the imagination of Sarah Vaughan (19241990) or Anita O'Day, and the blues-based power of Dinah Washington (19241963). The criticisms sprang partly from her "crossover" popularity and ignored her obvious strengths and contributions: Fitzgerald was not only one of the pioneers of scat singing, but, beyond that, she was a down-to-earth singer whose harmonic variations were always unforced. Plus, she was a supreme melodist who never let herself get in the way of any song she sang.

Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996, at the age of seventy-eight. She left a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. In her lifetime she was honored with fourteen Grammys, the Kennedy Center Award, as well as an honorary doctorate in music from Yale University. In 1992 President George Bush (1924) honored her with the National Medal of Freedom. Fitzgerald's impressive financial estate was left in a trust, including the $2.5 million in proceeds from the sale of her Beverly Hills home.

For More Information

Fidelman, Geoffrey Mark. First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald for the Record. New York: Citadel Press, 1996.

Gourse, Leslie. The Ella Fitzgerald Companion: Seven Decades of Commentary. New York: Schirmer Books, 1998.

Kliment, Bud. Ella Fitzgerald (Black Americans of Achievement). Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 1988.

Krohn, Katherine E. Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song. Minneapolis: Lerner, 2001.

Nicholson, Stuart. Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz. New York: Scribner, 1994.

Wyman, Carolyn. Ella Fitzgerald: Jazz Singer Supreme. Danbury, CT: Franklin Watts, 1993.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella-0

"Fitzgerald, Ella." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella-0

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1996) was one of the most exciting jazz singers of her time and, because of the naturalness of her style, had a popular appeal that extended far beyond the borders of jazz.

Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1918, in Newport News, Virginia, but spent her formative years in Yonkers, New York, and received her musical education in its public schools. When only 16, she received her first big break at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, when she won an amateur night contest and impressed saxophonistbandleader Benny Carter. He recommended her to drummer-bandleader Chick Webb, who hired her in 1935. She soon became a recording star with the band, and her own composition "A-tisket, A-tasket"(1938) was such a smash hit that the song became her trademark for many years thereafter. When Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald assumed leadership of the band for the next year.

By 1940 Fitzgerald was recognized throughout the music world as a vocal marvel—a singer with clarity of tone, flexibility of range, fluency of rhythm, and, above all, a talent for improvisation that was equally effective on ballads and up-tempo tunes. Although for a long time her reputation with musicians and other singers outstripped that with the general public, she corrected the imbalance soon after joining Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) in 1946. She made annual tours with the group and was invariably the concert favorite. Three of her unfailing show-stoppers were "Oh, Lady Be Good," "Stomping at the Savoy," and "How High the Moon." Each would begin at a medium tempo and then turn into a rhythmic excursion as Fitzgerald moved up-tempo and "scatted"(that is, sang harmonic variations of the melody in nonsense syllables). The huge JATP crowds always responded tumultuously.

By the early 1950s Fitzgerald's domination of fans' and critics' polls was absolute. In fact, she won the Down Beat readers' poll every year from 1953 to 1970 and became known as "The First Lady of Song." In 1955 she terminated her 20-year recording affiliation with Decca in order to record for Norman Granz's Verve label and proceeded to produce a series of superlative "Songbook" albums, each devoted to the compositions of a great songwriter or song-writing team (Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer; George and Ira Gershwin; Cole Porter; Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; Irving Berlin; Duke Ellington). The lush orchestrations induced Fitzgerald to display the classy pop-singer side of herself; even in the two-volume Ellington set her jazzier side deferred to the melodist in her.

Under Granz's personal management Fitzgerald also began to play choice hotel jobs and made her first featured film appearance, in "Pete Kelly's Blues"(1955). In 1957 she worked at the Copacabana in New York City and gave concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. In 1958, in the company of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, she gave a concert at Carnegie Hall as part of an extended European and United States tour with the band. In the early 1960s she continued to work the big hotel circuit—the Flamingo in Las Vegas, the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and the Americana in New York City—and to tour Europe, Latin America, and Japan with the Oscar Peterson trio, which was three-fourths of Granz's JATP house rhythm section. In 1965 and 1966 she was reunited with Ellington for another tour and record date.

Fitzgerald was always blessed with superb accompanists, from the full orchestral support of Chick Webb and Duke Ellington to the smaller JATP ensembles. In 1968 she teamed up with yet another, the magnificent pianist Tommy Flanagan, who headed a trio that served her into the mid-1970s. In 1971 Fitzgerald had serious eye surgery, but within a year she was performing again. Her singing, however, began to show evidence of decline: the voice that was once an instrument of natural luster and effortless grace became a trifle thin and strained. Nevertheless, so great was her artistry that she continued to excite concert audiences and to record effectively. She appeared after the mid-1960s with over 50 symphonic orchestras in the United States.

A large, pleasant-looking woman with a surprisingly girlish speaking voice, Ella Fitzgerald had a propensity for forgetting lyrics. This endeared her to audiences, who delighted in her ability to work her way out of these selfpainted corners. Unlike some other great jazz singers (Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day), Fitzgerald had a private life devoid of drug-related notoriety. She was twice married: the first marriage, to Bernie Kornegay in 1941, was annulled two years later; the second, to bassist Ray Brown in 1948, ended in divorce in 1952 (they had one son).

Was Ella Fitzgerald essentially a jazz singer or a pop singer? Jazz purists say that she lacked the emotional depth of Billie Holiday, the imagination of Sarah Vaughan or Anita O'Day, and the blues-based power of Dinah Washington and that she was often facile, glossy, and predictable. The criticisms sprang partly from her "crossover" popularity and ignored her obvious strengths and contributions: Fitzgerald was not only one of the pioneers of scatsinging, but, beyond that, she was an unpretentious singer whose harmonic variations were always unforced and a supreme melodist who never let her ego get in the way of any song she sang.

Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996 at the age of 78. She left a legacy that won't soon be forgotten. In her lifetime she was honored with no less than 12 Grammys, the Kennedy Center Award, as well as an honorary doctorate in music from Yale University. In 1992 she was honored by President George Bush with the National Medal of Freedom. Fitzgerald's impressive financial estate was left in a trust, including the $2.5 million in proceeds from the sale of her Beverly Hills home.

Further Reading

There is no biography of Ella Fitzgerald, but there are excellent chapters on her in Leonard Feather's From Satchmo to Miles (1972) and Henry Pleasants' The Great American Popular Singers (1974). Also see Jet (December 28, 1992). □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Ella Fitzgerald." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ella Fitzgerald." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ella-fitzgerald

"Ella Fitzgerald." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ella-fitzgerald

Fitzgerald, Ella

Ella Fitzgerald, 1917–96, American jazz singer, b. Newport News, Va. Probably the most celebrated jazz vocalist of her generation, Fitzgerald was reared in Yonkers, N.Y., moving after her mother's death (1932) to Harlem, where two years later she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater. Thereafter she performed with Chick Webb's band. After he died in 1939 she managed the band herself until 1942, when she began to make solo appearances in supper clubs and theaters. Principally a jazz and blues singer of remarkably sweet and effortless style, Fitzgerald was noted for her sophisticated interpretation of songs by George Gershwin and Cole Porter and for her scat singing, an extremely inventive form of vocal jazz improvisation.

Fitzgerald, whose superb voice, wide repertoire, and accessible singing style appealed to both jazz and pop audiences, scored her first recording hit with "A-Tisket A-Tasket" (1938) and went on to become a perennially popular artist with such performances as the million-selling "I'm Making Believe" (1944, with the Ink Spots), the historic scat "Flying Home" (1945), the be-bop "Lady Be Good" (1947), and many hundreds more. She also wrote a number of songs and made numerous concert tours of the United States, Europe, and Asia. She appeared in several films, including Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) and St. Louis Blues (1958). Despite ill health, Fitzgerald continued performing into the early 1990s.

See biography by S. Nicholson (1994); C. Zwerin, dir., Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For (documentary film, 1999).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella

Fitzgerald, Ella

Fitzgerald, Ella (b Newport News, Va., 1918; d Beverly Hills, Calif., 1996). Amer. singer. Sang in Harlem clubs in early 1930s until discovered by Chick Webb with whose band she sang from 1934. On his death in 1939 she led the band until 1942 when she became a free-lance. Toured Eur., Canada, Japan, and USA with Norman Granz's ‘Jazz at the Philharmonic’ from 1946. In scat-singing, improvised melody and harmony to compete with instrumentalists. Sang at Carnegie Hall, NY, with Ellington, 1958. Made films and many recordings.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/fitzgerald-ella

"Fitzgerald, Ella." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/fitzgerald-ella

Fitzgerald, Ella

Fitzgerald, Ella (1917–96) US jazz singer. Chick Webb discovered the ‘First Lady of Song’ at Harlem's Apollo Theatre in 1934. Ella's first hit was “A-Tisket A-Tasket” (1938). Her Songbook series of renditions of popular ‘standards’ by George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter have become definitive. She worked with most of the jazz greats of her era, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis Armstrong.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Fitzgerald, Ella." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Fitzgerald, Ella." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella

"Fitzgerald, Ella." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/fitzgerald-ella