Happy birthday to Ella Fitzgerald, born on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia! Known as “the Queen of Jazz” and “the First Lady of Song,” she was the most popular female jazz musician in the United States for more than half a century. Fitzgerald had a tumultuous childhood, but her luck turned around when she was chosen to compete in a talent competition at the Apollo Theatre in 1934. She planned to dance, but on stage, she made a last-minute decision to sing a jazz version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy” and won first prize.
In 1936, Ella’s first recording, “Love and Kisses” was released, followed by her rendition of “(If You Can’t Sing It) You Have to Swing It” and her first hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” She toured theaters in the United States and abroad and continued to record, creating a nineteen volume series of albums on which she interpreted songs by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, and other musicians. Audiences loved (and fans still love) her wide ranging vocal abilities and her mastery of rhythm, harmony, and scat singing.
Over the course of her career, Ella Fitzgerald sold over 40 million albums, won 13 Grammy awards and was awarded with the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Kennedy Center Honor for Lifetime Achievement. If you’d like to learn more about Ella Fitzgerald and her music, look no further than our catalog.
You can find Ella Fitzgerald’s catalog on Hoopla! You can stream immediately and there’s never a wait list.
Learn more about the life of Ella Fitzgerald in this documentary. Based on an interview at her home in 1985, you’ll hear 22 songs that highlight her career and personal life, and see interviews with Quincy Jones, Shirley Horn, Dr. Billy Taylor, and more.
Ella Fitzgerald: The Complete Biography by Stuart Nicholson
Author Stuart Nicholson paints a picture of Ella Fitzgerald’s professional and person life using original documents and interviews
The Ella Fitzgerald Companion by Norman David
This guide to Ella Fitzgerald’s sixty-year career, including her recordings, her important influences, and her collaborators-.