On this day in 1917, one of the most influential jazz vocalists of all time, Ella Fitzgerald, was born in Newport News, Virginia. Fitzgerald’s music career spanned six decades and she became known as the “First Lady of Song” due to her stunning voice and wide-ranging repertoire.
Fitzgerald’s rise to fame began in the 1930s, when she won a talent contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. She went on to perform with some of the most prominent jazz musicians of the time, including Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. Fitzgerald was also known for her collaborations with the jazz pianist, bandleader, and composer, Count Basie.
Throughout her career, Fitzgerald recorded over 200 albums, won 14 Grammy Awards, and received numerous other accolades for her contributions to music. She was renowned for her incredible vocal range and her ability to improvise and scat-sing, making her a true pioneer in the genre.
Fitzgerald also used her platform to advocate for civil rights and was a supporter of the movement throughout her life. She passed away in 1996 at the age of 79, but her legacy as one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time continues to inspire and influence musicians to this day.