Ella Fitzgerald

615 Words2 Pages

Ella Fitzgerald

To some, Ella Fitzgerald had a hard life from the moment she was born.

To others, Ella had it made. Ella Fitzgerald was born April 25th 1917

in Virginia. Soon afterwards, her parents separated and Ella followed

her mother to Yonkers, New York. Ella was barely a teenager when her

mother died. While still coping with this tragedy, Ella found herself

failing school and having frequent run-ins with the police. She was

also abused by her caretakers while in the custody of a reform school.

At age 15 Ella ran away from school along with the horrible memories

of that time. Somehow she managed to support herself through the Great

Depression, a feat that is most commendable. Ella found her refuge in

attending the Apollo theatre, famous for its amateur competitions. At

17, she entered the competition and wooed the crowd with her

incredible vocals.

In the crowd that night were notable jazz artists of the time

including Benny Carter and Bardu Ali, who conducted the Chick Webb

orchestra. Ella began working and touring with the orchestra from 1935

and eventually took over as band leader in 1939. Although Ella had

obtained this status so early in her career, her enthusiasm to learn

and form business relationships never ceased. Ella was a professional

and was very good at what she did - not only because of her rare

talent but for her mature attitude at such a young age.

Many black female jazz vocalists of Ella's era found themselves caught

up in the industry. Many of these artists became driven by money, sex

and drugs and died at a young age, like the late Billie Holiday. Ella

remained different from this crowd and as a resul...

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Ella also appeared on many television chat shows during the 1960s and

1970s. These included the Nat "King" Cole Show, the Tonight Show and

the Ed Sullivan show.

Ella's health unfortunately started to decline in the 1980s. She

became severely ill with diabetes and had both legs amputated below

the knee before her death in 1996. Ella remains immortal through song

and is still seen as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time.

By performing at predominantly white clubs Ella opened up new

possibilities for aspiring black jazz musicians in the big cities.

Ella's fans are as diverse as her vocal stylings - both black and

white fell in love with the songster. Ella Fitzgerald revolutionized

the way jazz ballads were sung with her sensitivity and naturalness

and also had a powerful influence over the industry itself.

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