100 years ago this past Tuesday the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was born. Known as “The First Lady of Song,” she is beloved for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, three-octave range, and trombone-like improvisational skill, particularly while scat singing. Her rendition of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” helped boost her to national fame.
Later she joined with Louis Armstrong (Dream a Little Dream of Me), The Ink Spots (Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall), and Duke Ellington (It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing) for some of her most memorable recordings.
In 1958, Fitzgerald made history as the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. The singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums.
She died in her Beverly Hills home in 1996 at the age of 79, three years after diabetes forced doctors to amputate both her legs below the knee.
This week a departure from our regular feature in that Ella Fitzgerald and her career contributions haven’t been forgotten. Let’s hope they never are.
Learn more by reading and listening to this report from earlier this week on National Public Radio.
From a 1980 TV special highlighting the Carpenters, a legendary duo salutes American popular music and composers. It’s amazing.