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Happy 100th Birthday, Ella!

Series: IJC
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, on April 25, 1917 and raised in Yonkers, New York. In 1934 Benny Carter and Bardu Ali heard Ms. Fitzgerald singing at the Apollo Theatre and introduced her to Chick Webb who hired Ella as a singer with his orchestra. One of the major hits of her career was a version of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” recorded in 1938, with Webb’s orchestra. After his death in 1939, she assumed the leadership of the orchestra for some years. By 1946 she was well into her solo career touring the world with Norman Granz’ Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1955 Granz became Ms. Fitzgerald’s personal manager and she began recording for his label, Verve. Throughout her career Ella recorded with jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ray Brown, Count Basie, Al Grey, and others. Worth mentioning are eight “Song Book” albums Ms. Fitzgerald produced for Verve from 1956 to 1964. In this series she sang compositions of Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, and Johnny Mercer. She was the recipient of several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1992), the French medal of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres)(1990), the NAACP Image award for Lifetime Achievement (1988), U.S. National Medal of Arts (1987), the first ASCAP award in recognition of an artist (1965), and several Grammy and Down Beat magazine awards. She also received awards and honorary degrees from several universities, including Princeton University (1990) and Dartmouth College (1976). Ella Fitzgerald died in Beverly Hills, California, on June 15, 1996. (From the finding aid for the Collection on Ella Fitzgerald).


LF.IV.0102, Ella Fitzgerald performing at Downbeat Cafe, New York City, 1949, University of Idaho Library Digital Collections

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