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WRTI 90.1's Essential Jazz Artist No. 1: Ella Fitzgerald

Wikipedia Commons
Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

That clean, clear, flexible, and soulful voice can only belong to "The Queen of Song," Ella Fitzgerald. She amazes us with her improvising, range, and pristine intonation sounding like a trumpet at times. And she makes us laugh out loud when she scats, sounding like she knows something we don’t.

But above all, Ella sounds like a lady, and one of the greatest jazz performers of any kind, of any time. You voted her the No. 1 Most Essential Jazz Artist.

  • A 19th-century nursery rhyme made Ella famous, in 1938, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
  • Although a solo act for most of her career, Ella’s collaborations with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Pass, and The Ink Spots were hugely popular.
  • Some of her biggest hits are "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "Cheek to Cheek," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall," “How High the Moon,” and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)."
  • She was the first African-American female to win a GRAMMY in 1958, and went on to win 13 GRAMMYs and a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. Two of her singles and four albums are in the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
  • She was awarded the National Medal of Arts (Reagan, 1987) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (George H. W. Bush, 1992).

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WRTI's Susan Lewis appreciates Ella with Philadelphia jazz singer Phyllis Chapell.

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