DREAM BIG Little Leader: Who was Ella Fitzgerald?

Ella Fitzgerald, was known as the “First Lady of Song“. Also known as “Lady Ella,” she was an immensely popular American jazz and song vocalist.

Fitzgerald turned to singing after a troubled childhood and debuted at the Apollo Theater in 1934. Discovered in an amateur contest, she went on to become the top female jazz singer for decades. In 1958, Fitzgerald made history as the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award for best individual jazz performance and best female vocal performance. The singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums!

The 1950s and 1960s proved to be a time of great critical and commercial success for Fitzgerald, where she earned the moniker “First Lady of Song” for her mainstream popularity and unparalleled vocal talents. Her unique ability to mimic instrumental sounds helped popularize the vocal improvisation of scatting, which became her signature technique. She loved collaborating soul and produced great recordings with many artists including Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie.

By the 1980s, Fitzgerald experienced serious health problems. She made her last recording in 1989 and her last public performance in 1991 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996, at her home in Beverly Hills. In all, Fitzgerald recorded more than 200 albums and some 2,000 songs in her lifetime. My personal favourite is Summertime.

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