Ella Fitzgerald (1917 – 1996)
Known as the “First Lady of Song” and was an American jazz & song vocalist who interpreted much of the Great American Songbook.
Quote: “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
- Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917. Fitzgerald experienced a troubled childhood with her family struggling financially.
- In 1934, Ella was trying to make it on her own and living on the streets. With aspirations to become an entertainer, Ella entered an amateur contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Fitzgerald went on to win the contest’s $25 first place prize.
- Fitzgerald experienced great success in the ‘50s and ’60s, earning the moniker “First Lady of Song” for her popularity and vocal talents.
- In 1958, Fitzgerald won two Grammys, making history as the first African-American woman to win the award for the best individual jazz performance and best female vocal performance.
- Later in life, Fitzgerald experienced serious health problem that led to heart surgery in 1986. Diabetes left Fitzgerald blind and she had both legs amputated in 1994.
- Ella made her last recording in 1989 and her last public performance in 1991 at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
- Ella died on June 15, 1996 at her home in Beverly Hills.