WRTI's Essential Jazz Artist No. 2: Ella Fitzgerald

Feb 9, 2017

That clean, clear, flexible, and soulful voice can only belong to "The Queen of Song," Ella Fitzgerald. She amazes us with her improvising, range, and pristine intonation sounding like a trumpet at times. And she makes us laugh out loud when she scats, sounding like she knows something we don’t. But above all, Ella sounds like a lady, and one of the greatest jazz performers of any kind, of any time. You voted her the No. 2 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

  • A 19th-century nursery rhyme made Ella famous, in 1938, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
  • Although a solo act for most of her career, Ella’s collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Pass, and The Ink Spots were hugely popular.
  • Some of her biggest hits are "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "Cheek to Cheek," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," “How High the Moon,” and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."
  • She was the first African-American female to win a GRAMMY in 1958, and went on to win 13 GRAMMYs and a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. Two of her singles and four albums are in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
  • She was awarded the National Medal of Arts (Reagan, 1987) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (George H. W. Bush, 1992).

WRTI's Susan Lewis appreciates Ella with Philadelphia jazz singer Phyllis Chapell.

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