Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady Of Song

Hear Five Classic Songs Below

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Ella Fitzgerald. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com hide caption

itoggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com
Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Fitzgerald.

William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most recognized voices in jazz history. As a teen, her dream was to be a dancer, but fate had different plans for her. At age 16, she was planning to perform a dance at Harlem's famed Apollo Theatre Amateur Night, which always took place after a headlining performance. The headline act that night included professional dancers — a tough act for an amateur to follow. Instead, Fitzgerald decided to sing. She captivated the crowd and won the contest. From then on, she would win countless fans throughout her career, in the process becoming the First Lady of Song.

Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady Of Song

A-Tisket, A-Tasket

  • Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Album: Something to Live For

This 1938 recording of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" sold more than a million copies when it was first released. Who would have thought that a traditional children's tune could turn into such a swinging jazz standard? Fitzgerald fronts Chick Webb's Orchestra here.

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Song
A-Tisket, A-Tasket
Album
Something to Live For
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Verve
Released
1999

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Songbooks

Something's Gotta Give

  • Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Album: Best of the Songbooks

Fitzgerald recorded many albums highlighting the song books of great American composers. This rousing number is straight off a page from the Johnny Mercer song book. Try to sing along, and you'll realize what a master of timing and phrasing she was.

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Song
Something's Gotta Give
Album
Best of the Songbooks
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Castle
Released
1993

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Cover for Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book

It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

  • Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Album: Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book

If you're looking for a song that defines swing, this is it. Fitzgerald sings and scats her way through a signature Duke Ellington tune with seeming effortlessness. Stuff Smith is featured on violin.

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Song
It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Album
Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Verve

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First Lady

Blue Skies

  • Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Album: Best of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song

"Blue Skies" sounds as happy and carefree as a sunny summer day. Her talent for scatting as naturally as breathing is highlighted on this tune. This song was originally released on Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book.

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Song
Blue Skies
Album
Best of Ella Fitzgerald: First Lady of Song
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Polygram
Released
1994

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The Ballads

Day Dream

  • Artist: Ella Fitzgerald
  • Album: Best of the Songbooks: The Ballads

Fitzgerald brought a depth of emotion to every song she sang, whether it be happy or sad. This version of Billy Strayhorn's classic composition is reflective and melancholy. She sings here with Ellington and his Orchestra.

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Song
Day Dream
Album
Best of the Songbooks: The Ballads
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Polygram
Released
1994

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Purchase Featured Music

Best of the Songbooks

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Best of the Songbooks
Artist
Ella Fitzgerald
Label
Castle
Released
1993

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

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