The "First Lady of Song" who sang with love and inspiration, Ella Jane Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was born on this day in Newport News, Virginia. Orphaned in her mid-teens, she won $25 at an Apollo Theater amateur show at age 16.
"I sing like I feel," the jazz singer once explained.
Known for her creative vocals and imaginative interpretations of songs, while jamming with Dizzy Gillespie, she improvised. "That's how I learned my bop," she said. With a three-octave range and no formal training, her voice was admired for its purity of tone. She had a flawless ear for music.
"If Ella were a musical instrument," praised singer Frank Sinatra, "she's be the whole...orchestra...Ella is musical perfection. And I adore her and always will."
"It isn't where you came from; it's where you're going that counts," Lady Ella said. With the guidance of the talented musician Chick Webb, she perfected her craft.
Fitzgerald became a jazz star--and bandleader-- almost overnight. Along with Billie Holiday, Ella was considered the queen of swing during the songwriting boom of the 1930s. She sold over 40 million albums in her 60-year career.
A creative improviser, she added bebop and scat to her performances. She leaped octaves. Upbeat and passionate, she dedicated her life to perfecting her art.
"The only thing better than singing is more singing," she said.
Where there is love and inspiration, there is no wrong.