[Photo: Ella Fitzgerald via ellafitzgerald.com]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
GBN is pulling a trifecta today — celebrating #MusicMonday, #JazzAppreciationMonth, and dropping in on absolutely one of the best singers past, present — or ever — Ella Fitzgerald!
Born 105 years ago #OnThisDay, through her stunningly timeless gifts (and vast catalog), Ella Fitzgerald is still surprising and delighting music lovers and casual fans alike.
To read about her, read on. To hear about her, press PLAY:
[You can follow or subscribe to the Good Black News Daily Drop Podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, rss.com or create your own RSS Feed. Or just check it out every day here on the main website. Full transcript below]:
Hey, this is Lori Lakin Hutcherson, founder and editor in chief of goodblacknews.org, here to share with you a daily drop of Good Black News for Monday, April 25th, 2022, based on the “A Year of Good Black News Page-A-Day Calendar” published by Workman Publishing.
Today, we offer a quote from the “First Lady of Song” born 105 years ago on this date, the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald.
“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
Born in 1917 in Newport News, Virginia, Ella Fitzgerald’s earliest artistic ambitions were to become a dancer.
When the loss of her mother when she was 15 lead to a relocation to Harlem to live with her aunt and stints in an orphanage and a state reformatory school for girls, Fitzgerald hustled to get by on the streets and at 17 took her terpsichorean talents to Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater.
But when she saw two sisters with a dance act go on before her and wow the crowd, Ella didn’t think she could compete so she switched up her talent from dancing to singing and took to the stage to sing “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection” and won first prize in 1934.
Although she didn’t record either at the time, in 1968 Ella gave “The Object of My Affection” another onstage go when she sang it for her Live At Chautauqua, Volume 1 LP:
[Excerpt from “The Object of My Affection”]
Ella’s Amateur night win lead to an audition with Chick Webb to become the girl singer in his orchestra, and one of the best collaborations between bandleader and singer in the swing era.
Webb and Ella had hits with “Love and Kisses,” “(If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)” and the classic turn on a nursery rhyme co-written by Ella that become of the best-selling songs in it’s decade, “A Tisket, A Tasket”:
[Excerpt from “A Tisket, A Tasket”]
Even as Chick Webb took the young Ella under his wing, his serious health challenges ended his life way too soon in 1939.
Ella stepped up and lead and toured with the orchestra for a few more years until she went solo as jazz turned increasingly towards the newer sounds of bebop.
It was around this time, while working with Dizzy Gillespie and his band, Ella developed her scat singing style, lauded on songs such as “Oh, Lady Be Good” and “Flying Home”:
[Excerpt from “Flying Home”]
Ella not only navigated and interpreted jazz standards with dazzling dexterity and clarity, during her heyday, she, like her quote implied, sang and sang and sang some more.
Ella took on several of America’s most popular composers with her unparalleled series of “songbooks,” where she devoted entire albums to covering the songs of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Rodgers and Hart, Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin.
You can’t go wrong with any of these incredible recordings, so I’ll share a personal favorite from Ella Sings Gershwin – Ella’s plaintively tender version of “Someone to Watch Over Me”:
[Excerpt of “Someone to Watch Over Me”]
Ella also paired up with jazz royalty, recording an album with Count Basie, three with Louis Armstrong, four with guitarist Joe Pass and four with Duke Ellington, one which included her version of – I can’t think of any better word than “banging” because Ella just goes so hard in “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”:
[Excerpt of “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”]
From big band to bebop to Broadway, standards, pop and R&B, throughout her career, Ella Fitzgerald recorded over 200 albums and 2,000 songs.
Because frankly, with a voice like hers, the only thing better than Ella singing was more Ella singing. I’m going to put a link to a much longer Ella playlist in the show notes, but let’s hear from her one more time, in 1977, when one of her biggest fans, Stevie Wonder, lovingly sings her praises right before she helps him sing his song:
[Excerpt of “You Are the Sunshine Of My Life”]
To learn more about Ella Fitzgerald, watch the 2019 documentary Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things now streaming on Netflix, the 1999 American Masters biography on Ella called Something To Live For currently posted on YouTube, read ELLA: A Biography of the Legendary Ella Fitzgerald by Geoffrey Mark from 2018, Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz by Stuart Nicholson from 1994.Watch incredible clips of her on YouTube performing with Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie.
And of course, buy or stream as much of her music as you can. Links to these sources and more are provided in today’s show notes and in the episodes full transcript posted on goodblacknews.org.
This has been a daily drop of Good Black News, written, produced and hosted by me, Lori Lakin Hutcherson.
Intro and outro beats provided by freebeats.io and produced by White Hot.
All excerpts of Ella Fitzgerald’s music are included under Fair Use.
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- https://youtu.be/myRc-3oF1d0 (Ella and Ellington)
- https://youtu.be/_PMB-wgHM4Y (Ella and Basie)
- https://youtu.be/CPQwHt3f8Yo (Ella and Sinatra)
Original article source: https://goodblacknews.org/2022/04/25/music-monday-born-onthisday-in-1917-first-lady-of-song-ella-fitzgerald-listen/ | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council