Ella Jane Fitzgerald of often known as the Queen of Jazz was one of the most prominent and influential female jazz artists of the twentieth century. Known for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, and soulful voice, she ruled the throne of jazz. Ella Fitzgerald had mastered the art of creating mesmerizing music. Throughout her remarkable career, she collaborated with many legendary jazz artists which include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and The Ink Spots. Ella Fitzgerald’s music career spanned over sixty years, and throughout that time she created some of the purest and best jazz music ever.
Born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, she was the daughter of William Fitzgerald and Temperance Henry. Ella started her schooling at the age of six, and after moving through a few schools she started attending Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in 1929. Being in a religious family, Ella often attended worship services, Bible Study, and Sunday school, and the Church was where Ella was first introduced to music. Ella loved listening to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, and many more such artists. However, after the death of her mother in 1932, she moved in with an aunt, and became a bit unfocused and went off track for some time. By 1934, she was trying to make it on her own but struggled, however, she never forgot her dream of becoming an entertainer.
Ella Fitzgerald’s career got a start when she first performed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater and won the first prize. Soon she met bandleader and drummer Chick Webb, and as he was on the lookout for a female singer, Ella was presented with the opportunity to showcase her singing talents. And eventually, Ella recorded “Love and Kisses” with Chick Webb in 1935 and started performing often at one of Harlem’s hottest clubs called the Savoy. Ella also released her first music hit “A-Tisket, A Tasket” in 1938 and her second super-hit “I Found My Yellow Basket” later that year. However, after the death of Chick Webb, the band was renamed as ‘Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra’. She recorded over 150 songs with this orchestra between 1935 and 1942. Soon after, she started working with Decca Records and released several hits with Bill Kenny, The Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and The Delta Rhythm Boys.
The 1950s and 1960s was a successful period for Ella Fitzgerald as she achieved huge commercial success and earned the title “First Lady of Song”. Her popularity grew and her music was loved and praised everywhere. The fresh and unique way of Ella with her music was something incredible. In 1966, Ella started recording with Verve. And during this time, she released some of her most successful albums like “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book”. At the very first Grammy Awards of 1958, Ella received her first-ever Grammy Awards and created history by being the first African-American woman in the world to win such an award. She won the award for best individual Jazz performance and best female vocal performance. In the following years, Ella recorded with some of the most influential jazz artists of that time like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, and Frank Sinatra.
After having a fulfilling musical career, Ella continued to perform in concerts and at various stages. But by the 1980s, her health had deteriorated and she was suffering from various health conditions. She made her last music recording in 1989 and performed for the last time publicly in 1991 at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ella Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996. Being one of the greatest female jazz artists of all time, Ella recorded more than two hundred albums and over two thousand songs throughout the span of her music career. Winning several prestigious awards which include fourteen Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts, and Presidential Medal of Freedom, she remains one of the most legendary jazz artists of all time.