\\ Eight interesting facts about Ella Fitzgerald

2017 marks the centenary of Ella Fitzgerald‘s birth, which makes it the perfect time to share some interesting facts you didn’t know about the ‘First Lady of Song’.

1 \\ Ella Fitzgerald’s first aspiration was to be a dancer. Though she loved music, it was after winning a competition at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York, that Ella decided to follow music.

2 \\ We all have that random first job. In fact, the First Lady of Song’s first job touched on the criminal world, working as a runner for local gamblers, picking up bets and dropping money in order to support her mother and stepfather.

3 \\ Ella Fitzgerald was a woman of many talents and even appeared in some films including, Ride ‘EmCowboy 1940 starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello; Pete Kelly’s Blues, 1955; St. Louis Blues, 1958; and Let No Man Write My Epitaph, 1960.

4 \\ Ella Fitzgerald had famous fans as well as famous friends. In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe convinced the manager of Mocambo Club (the place to be) to invite Ella to sing. In exchange she would have a table right at the front every night she performed. Ella told Ms Magazine in an interview (1972) – “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … after that, I never had to play a small jazz club again.” 

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5 \\ Lyricist Ira Gershwin said, “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them.” Other composers that Ella worked with included Cole Porter, Duke Ellinton, Irving Berlin and Jonny Mercer.

6 \\ Ella Fitzgerald was a queen of collaboration. With Louis Armstrong she made two studio albums with the Verve label. As well as recording, she also performed with Benny Goodmand, Count Bassie and Dizzie Gillespie.

7 \\ Speaking of Verve, Ella Fitzgerald was first signed to Decca in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1955 however, Norman Granz from Verve bought her Decca contract, allowing Ella to record some of her best known work.

8 \\ Ella Fitzgerald must have had a big mantelpiece; aside from her phenomenal 13 Grammy awards, she also won the National Medal of Arts in 1984 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. 

What’s your favourite fact about Ella Fitzgerald? Tweet @jazz_standard

JS | Nina Fine

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