Ella Fitzgerald was an iconic jazz singer who is known all around the world for her musical career. She was born in 1917 and died in 1996. She had an amazing career that lasted for more than six decades. She is well-known for her sweet voice and amazing style that positioned her in the top artists of that time. She started new trends in the jazz world and was part in some of the most successful music bands of that time. But not many people know much about her besides her amazing career. We have listed some facts about this amazing icon to better understand the woman behind the legend.
She was an arts enthusiast even since she was little. At first, she wanted to become a dancer. She participated in an amateur competition where she panicked and decided that this is not for her. She lived most of her childhood with her mother and her Portuguese partner in a poor Italian neighborhood. She later stated that this period influenced her music style thanks to the fact that she was hearing music coming from the bars all day long.
Her debut was when she was 17 at the Apollo Theater. They were hosting an amateur talent night and at first, she enrolled to dance but got scared of the competition and decided to sing instead. She sang in the style of her idol, Connee Boswell and won the great prize. This was her major debut in the music world. It is said that she sang on the streets of Harlem before to gather money to survive.
Break Out Role
Her first major music role came when she joined the band led by Chick Webb. At first he didn’t want to take her because her style was still very rough. He later described her “as a rough diamond” at that time. The time spent with the band helped her have a better economic situation and to perfect her style. In the 40’s she started recording solo songs that brought her immense popularity. The critics if that time stated that she managed to succeed where people like Louis Armstrong only scratched the surface. She was considered the most powerful jazz vocalist of that time and her albums were selling instantly.
She had her first tour in Australia together with other renowned jazz players. The tours were very successful but left a very bitter taste for Ella after she experienced moments of discrimination in Sydney. She had an amazing career after this and managed to cement her place in the history of jazz.
She continued to play and record until her health started to deteriorate. She suffered from diabetes and in the late years her eyesight started to fail her. She was hospitalized many times for exhaustion and decided to retire from music and touring three years before her death to enjoy time with her family. She started the Ella Fitzgerald foundation that helps the less fortunate get the development opportunities they need.