Ella Fitzgerald

One of the greatest and best-loved jazz singers of all time with an extraordinary vocal range, Ella Fitzgerald used her wonderful voice and improvisational scat singing to achieve worldwide renown and an international fan base. She was mostly raised in Yonkers, New York by her mother and originally wanted to be a dancer, but when her mother brought home a record by The Boswell Sisters she became hooked on jazz music. Her mother died when Ella was just 15-years-old and the grief sent the teenager down a destructive spiral as she started skipping school, running away from the orphanage and ultimately ended up homeless. But singing got her back on track; as she started imitating the vocal style of her heroine Connee Boswell Ella began her jazz career at the age of 17 performing at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem. She began singing with the Chick Webb Orchestra and had several hits with them, including 'Love and Kisses' and novelty song 'A-Tisket, A-Tasket'; when Webb died in 1939 Ella became the orchestra's band leader. She left to go solo in 1942 and as the swing era faded she adopted her style to incorporate spontaneous scat singing, vocally imitating the orchestra's horn section. Records like 'Flying Home' and 'Lady Be Good' are said to have completely changed the way jazz was perceived. Her 1950 album 'Ella Sings Gershwin' was also influential and, recording for Verve through the '50s and '60s, she released a series of albums of music by different writers that set the template for the Great American Songbook and established her as one of the greatest singers of the 20th century. She also appeared in several movies and had acclaimed collaborations with jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie. In 1996, after years of battling with diabetes, Ella Fitzgerald died in her Beverly Hills home surrounded by her family.

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Stations Featuring Ella Fitzgerald

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