Exclusive Unread 15 Facts on Ella Fitzgerald

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Famous as “The First Lady of Song” and winner of won 13 Grammy Awards, Ella Fitzgerald was the most eminent jazz singer of her times. For more than half a century, she created an aura of music in U.S., selling over 40 million albums and sharing great associations with names like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Learn more about the singer, named “Lady Ella”.

1. Her voice, to begin with, was unbelievable; she was noted for an unblemished diction, perfect modulation and phrasing with unrivaled tone clarity, like none other.

2. She was equally famous for her skills in scat singing, which is a wordless-vocal improvisation, a complex technique that requires singers to use voice as an instrument.

3. She was born as Ella Jane Fitzgerald on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, U.S. and died out of Diabetes mellitus on June 15, 1996 at Beverly Hills, California, U.S. when she was 79.

4. Born to unmarried parents, Fitzgerald was initially interested in dancing but the world changed for her when she went to perform at the Amateur Nights at the Apollo Theater. She was there to dance but when demoralized by the local dance duo Edwards Sisters and disheartened by the local crowd, she opted to sing, choosing “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection”, winning first prize of $25.00. Interestingly the prize also included a chance to perform there for a week but she never got the chance because of her scruffy appearance.

5. She was married twice, first to Benny Kornegay (1941–1943) and then later to Ray Brown (1947–1953). She also has a child with Ray Brown, named Ray Brown, Jr.

6. With a bad kick-start until she joined the Chick Webb Orchestra, it was here where she first found some stability to her career. Her rhyme, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” gained her national acknowledgement with the band. And after Webb’s death, she also took over the band.

7. She left the band in 1942 to start her solo career and signed up with label Verve Records which was especially created keeping in mind the singer’s unique voice abilities, by Norman Granz.

8. Some of her greatest works where recorded with this same label, one of all being the Great American Songbook (American Standards), the catalog of the most significant American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.

9. She worked with many eminent names besides her solo career, for example with The Ink Spots, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, etc and also appeared on several movies and television shows.

10. These partnerships gave the world few masterpieces like “Dream a Little Dream of Me”, “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall”, “Cheek to Cheek” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”.

11. She specialized in genres like swing, traditional pop, bepop, vocal jazz and blues. Famous for her ageless voice, her wide-ranging and flexible singing journey also included sultry ballads and sweet jazz. Interestingly, she could replicate every instrument in an orchestra. She got associated with labels like Verve, as mentioned above, besides Capitol, Pablo, Decca, Reprise, HMV and Brunswick.

12. Her fan-following, fascinatingly, was spread worldwide and was huge consisting of all races and creed of people. When hired by Webb’s band, she got an opportunity to travel with the band for $12.50 a week and that’s how she began bagging international fame.

13. She was always appreciated for her hard work and managing two shows a day at places miles away. Her one of the extraordinary performances ever was in 1974, when she spent a renowned two weeks’ time performing in NY with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie.

14. She was also inducted into the Down Beat magazine Hall of Fame, and received Kennedy Center Honors for her nonstop contributions to the arts. She received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967.

15. As a philanthropist, she had deep interest in child welfare and made charitable donations from time to time to special organizations created for disadvantaged youths.

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