Jazz Music: An All-Time Favorite Genre
It all started with his rare soft voice. This magical and unique voice with which she first dazzled audiences in New York and then around the world. Ella Fitzgerald is one of the greatest jazz singers in history. Popularly known as the “Queen of Jazz”, Ella was a legend for her jazz career which spanned some six decades. She became the first African-American singer to win a Grammy Award.
Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917 in Virginia, United States. Growing up, Ella enjoyed being a dancer. Ella, 15, entered a dance competition to fulfill her true calling. It was during an amateur party at the famous Apollo Theater where Ella hoped to show off her talent as a dancer. When she was called to perform, Ella got cold feet. The audience was increasingly agitated and Ella spontaneously decided to sing. It was a Boswell Sisters song. As the orchestra accompanied her, Ella gained confidence and finished the song to the applause of the crowd.
Soon after, Ella found musician Chick Webb and joined his band as a vocalist. She made her first recording, “Love and Kisses”, in 1935. Her first hit song “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”, followed in 1938. After Webb’s death, she took over the group until what he separated in 1942.
A jazz icon
Ella’s career took off dramatically in the 1950s when she met Norman Granz, the founder of the famous Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series. He becomes her manager and founds the Verve label, especially for her.
She has toured internationally with jazz stars such as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots and Dizzy Gillespie.
Ella recorded a series of “songbooks” in 19 volumes from 1956 to 1964. In these she performed nearly 250 outstanding songs by Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Johnny Mercer. This material, combined with the finest jazz instrumental support, demonstrated Fitzgerald’s remarkable performing skills. According to jazz historians, his diction was excellent and his interpretation of lyrics was intuitive rather than studied.
Ella recorded a number of live concert albums and produced a duet version of Porgy and Bess (1957) with Armstrong. She also appeared in films (notably Pete Kelly’s Blues in 1955), on television and in concert halls around the world.
Achievements and Awards
Fitzgerald mastered rhythm, harmony, intonation and diction to match his clear tone and wide vocal range. She was an excellent ballad singer, conveying an ingenuous quality. She pioneered the technique of “scatting” while singing, which has become her signature. Her infectious scat singing has garnered acclaim in concert recordings such as Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin and has been widely imitated by others. She has won 14 Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement. She also received a Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement (1979) and the National Medal of Arts (1987).
She was also one of the best-selling jazz vocal recording artists in history.
During the 1970s, Ella began to have serious health problems. In 1993, his career was cut short following complications from diabetes, which resulted in the amputation of both of his legs below the knees. She gave her last concert in New York in 1991, in the city where it all began. On June 15, 1996, she died at the age of 79 in her Beverly Hills home.
Ella Fitzgerald is a name that changed the face of jazz music for good. More importantly, she helped open the world of music to women.
Information from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ella-Fitzgerald, https://www.dw.com/en/first-lady-of-jazz-ella-fitzgeralds-100th-anniversary-of-birth/ a-38472109, https://www.idiva.com/womens-month/the-first-ladies/ella-fitzgerald-the-first-woman-to-win-multiple-grammys-and-change-the-face- of-jazz-music/17075302 was used in this story.