Ella Fitzgerald

First Lady of Song



Actress Denise Thimes plays the part of Ella Fitzgerald. The First Lady of Song was born in 1917 and died in 1996. She married twice, first to Benny Kornegay and Ray Brown. With Brown she had a son, Ray Brown Jr.

Jenna Bao, Associate Editor

Much of American music today comes from black culture, and perhaps one of the greatest African- American artists was Ella Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald grew up and rose to fame during the Great Depression, with a turbulent childhood including the death of her mother and stepfather and time spent in reform school. Her life turned around, however, when she was picked from a drawing at the Apollo Theater to perform at the amateur night.
Encouraged by her positive reception there, Fitzgerald began performing in talent shows and soon became singer for the Tiny Bradshaw band (when the old bandleader passed away, it became “Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band.”)
The singer rose to fame as she released singles experimenting with scat singing and improvisation, which she eventually became a master of. Her take on a nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” became a number one hit, and the young woman shot to fame. By the 1950s, she was touring the world.
In 1958, Fitzgerald became the first black woman to win a Grammy, and proceeded to receive 13 more. In her lifetime, she sold over 40 million albums. She performed with many jazz legends like Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington. In 1987, she was also awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Ronald Reagan.
Fitzgerald passed away from heart complications and diabetes in 1996.