Women's History Month - March 20th
“The First Lady of Song” graced the world with her sultry voice on November 21, 1934 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, singing Connee Boswell’s “Judy”. This was only the first stage in her long career of vocal performance. Her beginnings, however, were not easy. After the death of her mother and stepfather, Ella suffered a difficult period that led her to reform school. Later, when she escaped from the reform school at 15, she endured the next few years alone and poor during the Great Depression. As a woman and an artist she was the triumph of her contemporaries. Not only did she have a singing voice that could range three octaves, Ella Fitzgerald could scat and mimic nearly any instrument. In her lifetime, Ella Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums. Fitzgerald also worked with masters of jazz including Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra, and at one point was bandleader of “Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band”. She received such accolades as honorary doctorates from Yale and Dartmouth and the National Medal of Arts from President Reagan. Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer for over 45 years, and altered minds on jazz, race, women, and culture. Ella Fitzgerald passed away in her Beverly Hills home in 1996, but her voice and legacy will live on forever.