With her remarkable voice and breathtaking phrasing, Ella Fitzgerald is regarded by many as the greatest singer of all time. Born in 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, she started performing professionally at the age of 15. With more than 60 years’ worth of recordings to her name, Fitzgerald has held a place on top of the recording industry for a lifetime. Her music has spanned three distinct styles: swing, big band, and bebop.
Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia. Her parents were poor African Americans; her father worked a number of odd jobs to support his family. As an only child, Ella was given the nickname “Bella” by her mother’s singing group. The group had taken a liking to the Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso and called Fitzgerald “Little Caruso.
From the beginning of her career, Fitzgerald was a celebrated singer among her relatives. Her mother was the lead singer in a local church choir and the parents of her childhood friends taught her many songs from their own childhood. While growing up in Newport News, Fitzgerald developed an interest in music at a young age. She began learning piano and singing at church worship services at the age of eight. By the time she was fifteen, Fitzgerald had already had several amateur runs as part of minstrel shows that were hosted by local schools. As time went on, she began performing at nightclubs and other events while training in New York City. It was not until 1947, however, that she actually started making money in the industry.
Ella Fitzgerald Career Growth
Ella decided to begin performing professionally at the age of 15. She took a job as a nurse’s aide at a hospital. The nurse’s job gave her access to the wards where hunderds of people were receiving medical treatment. Her job also gave her an opportunity to meet people from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. She used this unique opportunity to build an enormous repertoire of songs. After about a year and a half, Ella discovered the Amateur Night at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater.
She was so impressed with the performance of Cab Calloway, who was hosting the show, that she decided to enter the competition herself. Fitzgerald won that particular contest on Amateur Night, but it took her 18 months to become a full-time performer in Harlem. Fitzgerald’s career began to build in a serious way after she teamed up with Billie Holiday. The two singers performed together on many occasions, including an important appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
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During her time as a performer, Fitzgerald had the opportunity to move back to Newport News as an adult. It was there that she met Louis Alexander, a musician and music teacher who became her first husband. She eventually moved back to New York City, where she made her debut record in 1941 for the Decca label. Ella’s career took off from that point forward.
In the years that followed, Fitzgerald continued to blossom in the recording industry. She became a favorite of the most respectable disc jockeys and appeared on countless television shows in which she sang songs by herself as well as with other artists. Ella also became known for her powerful falsetto voice, which was an important element of her style. She was also known to sing at many private parties and corporate events. As her fame grew, Fitzgerald was featured on the covers of publications such as Time magazine and Life magazine. She traveled to many different places, including Japan, Australia, and Europe.
Ella Fitzgerald had a very interesting personal life. She married three times in all. Her first husband was Louis Alexander, whom she married in 1941 while they were both performing in the United States Army band. They had two children together and she filed for divorce from him in 1947. Her second husband was the Cuban-born bandleader Chico O’Farrill. He was a friend of Fitzgerald’s first husband and introduced her to the African-American artist Gogi Grant. Ella married Chico in 1955 and he came to reside with them when he moved to New York City.
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Fitzgerald divorced Chico in 1964, but remained friends with him until his death in 1977. She was involved in a close friendship with her last husband, the musician and singer Stan Getz. Getz, who was born in the state of Kansas, was one of the first jazz musicians to gain worldwide fame. The two had been friends since their time at Carnegie Hall and remained so even after Fitzgerald’s divorce from Chico. Getz died in 1971 at age 45 and Ella died seven years later on January 25, 1996.
In conclusion, Ella Fitzgerald is remembered as one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. Her style and grace has left a mark on the industry and she will be remembered for many years to come.