Ella Fitzgerald is a legendary figure in jazz history. She had an illustrious career during a very tumultuous time in America and is hailed as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. As Frank Rich said in a New York Times piece: “It’s not just that her singing in beautiful. It is also liberating, transporting us into a realm of pleasure beyond all barriers, whether of race and age, of jazz and pop, of high art and low, or even, when she floats into scat, of language.” My grandparents listened to Ella, and I listen to Ella. Here are 10 things you should know about the Queen of Jazz.
1. Ella Fitzgerald is known as the “First Lady of Song”.
2.Ella first shot to fame at age 21, after recording a playful rendition of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”. Later, the album sold one million copies.
3. She was known for “scat” singing, which means mimicking a melody with rapid nonsense syllables.
4. Discrimination was a frequent obstacle in Ella’s career. During one concert in Texas, police arrested her whole band.
5. She was the first African-American woman to win a Grammy. Then she went on to win 12 more.
6. She grew up during the Great Depression and spend time living in the streets of New York.
7. Ella performed and recorded with jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra.
8. Ella developed diabetes late in life, which left her blind and necessitated amputation of both legs. She died on June 15, 1996.
9. All in all, Ella recorded 200 albums and her record sales totalled over 400 million.
10. For many people, Ella Fitzgerald will always be the Queen of Jazz. Her vocal ability and velvety voice are a perfect accompaniment to black-tie New Years Eve party with your best friends and a few bottles of wine.