Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz singer often referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.
After tumultuous teenage years, Fitzgerald found stability in musical success with performances on many stages in the Harlem area, including her rendition of the nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" that helped boost her to fame. In 1942, Fitzgerald left the amateur performances behind, signed a deal with Decca Records, and started her solo career by redefining the art of scat singing. It was not until her manager, Norman Granz, built Verve Records based on her vocal abilities that she recorded some of her more widely noted works. Under this label, Fitzgerald focused more on singing than scatting, providing perhaps her most career-defining works in her interpretation of the Great American Songbook.
While Fitzgerald appeared in movies and as guests on popular television shows in the second half of the twentieth century, her musical collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Bill Kenny and the Ink Spots were some of her most notable acts outside of her solo career. These partnerships produced recognizable songs like "Dream a Little Dream of Me", "Cheek to Cheek", "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". In 1993, Fitzgerald capped off her sixty-year career with her last public performance. Three years later, she died at the age of 79, following years of decline in her health. After her passing, Fitzgerald's influence lived on through her fourteen Grammy Awards, National Medal of Arts, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and tributes in the form of stamps, music festivals, and theater namesakes.
Ella's recording of The Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" was one of George Martin's favorite recordings he produced.
Ella was a charter inductee of the "Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame" in 1978.
Ella made a cameo appearance in the 1980's television drama The White Shadow:
Ella starred in several television commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Already blinded by the effects of diabetes, Ella had both her legs amputated in 1993.
Jazz singers Dee Dee Bridgewater, Patti Austin and Ann Hampton Callaway have all made Ella Fitzgerald tribute albums.
There is a statue of Ella in the Amtrak/Metro-North Railroad station in Yonkers.
Ella was awarded the `Presidential Medal of Freedom` by President George H. W. Bush.
Ella is entombed at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California - Sunset Memorial Garden Mausoleum, Second Floor, Sanctuary of the Bells, Crypt 1063.
Ella had a heart attack in August 1986, followed by a 5 way bypass operation.
Ella was awarded the `National Medal of Art` by President Ronald Regan.
Ella made her singing debut at age 17 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
Her adopted son, Ray Brown Jr., was in fact her nephew.
Ella was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1995.