Queen of #Jazz
, First Lady of Song. Born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1917, #EllaJaneFitzgerald
had a difficult coming of age in New York City various uptowns—Westchester & Harlem but also a Bronx reformatory & what was then called a "Training School for Girls" in the upper Hudson Valley. Throughout her trials—her mother died when she 15 & she may have been abused by her stepfather—she nurtured a love for #music
, especially jazz, training her vocal instrument against the hits of her youth & the standards of her Methodist church & Sunday school. She learned to eat off that voice during a stint on the streets of Harlem, earning what she could by singing & other schemes, & her 1st break came on November 21, 1934, when she won $25.00 at 1 of the 1st Amateur Nights at the #Apollo
. She was technically allowed a return engagement but Apollo management found the homeless teenager "disheveled" & neglected to invite her back.
In 1935 bandleader Chick Webb gave what he called "a diamond in the rough" a proper shot &Fitzgerald never looked back. Her first hit, which she co-wrote, was 1938's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," & when Webb died suddenly in 1939 his band became Ella & her Famous Orchestra. After going solo in 1942, Fitzgerald crossed the musical & vocal bridge between the swing & #bebop
eras, & her groundbreaking use of #scat
establishing her reputation as an innovator, a musician's musician. The New York Times called 1 of the earliest experiments, 1945's "Flying Home," "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade....Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no 1 before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness." She won her 1st #Grammy
in 1958, the 1st Black woman to win 1, & would go on to win 13 more Grammys. Her "song book" series, initiated with #EllaFitzgerald
Sings the Cole Porter Song Book in 1956 and running until 1964's Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book, are considered by many the key texts of the mid-20th century encounter between black & white musicians.