Ella Fitzgerald

Biography

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Lady Ella," was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves, she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

She is considered to be a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over a recording career that lasted 59 years, she was the winner of 14 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 #1 song was 1937’s “Goodnight My Love” performed with Benny Goodman. Other #1’s include 1938’s "A-Tisket, A-Tasket"(with Chick Webb), 1944’s "I'm Making Believe"(with the Ink Spots) and "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall"(with the Ink Spots).

She was known for her collaborations with fellow musicians and singers like Louis Armstrong with whom she recorded and released the 1956 album “Ella and Louis” and Duke Ellington with whom she recorded and released 1957’s “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook.” The latter would bring her first Grammy Award for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist. This was her third album in a series of releases encompassing composers’ songbooks that included the likes of Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen.

Fitzgerald recorded three Verve studio albums with Armstrong, two albums of standards and a third album featured music from the Gershwin musical “Porgy and Bess.” Fitzgerald also recorded a number of sides with Armstrong for Decca in the early 1950s.

Fitzgerald is sometimes referred to as the quintessential swing singer, and her meetings with Count Basie are highly regarded by critics. Fitzgerald features on one track on Basie's 1957 album “One O'Clock Jump,” while her 1963 album “Ella and Basie!” is remembered as one of her greatest recordings. Fitzgerald and Basie also collaborated on the 1972 album “Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72,” and on the 1979 albums “Digital III at Montreux,” “A Classy Pair “and “A Perfect Match.”

Fitzgerald and Joe Pass recorded four albums together toward the end of Fitzgerald's career. She recorded several albums with piano accompaniment, but a guitar proved the perfect melodic foil for her. Fitzgerald and Pass appeared together on the albums “Take Love Easy” (1973), “Easy Living” (1986), “Speak Love” (1983) and “Fitzgerald and Pass... Again” (1976).

Fitzgerald won fourteen Grammy awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement in 1967. Other major awards and honors she received during her career were the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, National Medal of Art, first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named "Ella" in her honor, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, UCLA Spring Sing.

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