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 Ella Fitzgerald

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Ella Fitzgerald

  • Birth 25 Apr 1917 Newport News, Newport News City, Virginia, USA
  • Death 15 Jun 1996 Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Plot Sunset Mission Mausoleum, Second Floor, Sanctuary of the Bells, Crypt 1063
  • GPS
  • Memorial ID 1328

Jazz Musician. One of the most celebrated jazz singer of her generation, she was known as the "First Lady of Jazz" for her ability to perform with virtuosity rivaling that of the greatest instrumentalists. She was born to unmarried parents, and before Ella was a year old her father William Fitzgerald, a wagon driver left the family. Ella Fitzgerald loved to sing and dance. She learned to sing by imitating the vocal stylings she heard on the radio and records, especially those of Louis Armstrong and Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. Her mother Temperence "Tempie" Williams died in 1932, and soon afterwards Ella moved out of her stepfather's home and went to live with her mother's sister in Harlem. Before long she dropped out of school, became involved with the numbers racket, and worked as a lookout at a brothel. Caught by the authorities, she was put into the Riverdale Children's Association, an orphanage and school, from which she ran away in 1934, determined to make a career in show business. Fitzgerald made her stage debut in Dec. 1934 when she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, singing "Judy" and "The Object of My Affection." She later came to the attention of Charles Linton, lead singer for Chick Webb's band. Linton took her to Webb, who hired her in 1935. She recorded her first hit, "A Tisket A Tasket," with Webb's band in 1939. Under Webb's musical guidance, Fitzgerald honed her professional skills, developed confidence, and began recording. In 1941 she impulsively married Benjamin "Benny" Kornegay, a band hanger-on, but the marriage was annulled in mid-1942. In that same year she embarked on her long magnificent career as a soloist. In 1947 Fitzgerald married famed jazz bassist Ray Brown. From 1948 to 1952 she sang in a jazz group led by Brown. The couple adopted an infant named Raymond Brown, Jr., but in 1953 the marriage ended and she never remarried. During her lifetime Fitzgerald worked with all the great jazz performers and won countless awards for her work, among them popularity awards from jazz magazines; honorary doctorates; the American Music Award (1978); the Kennedy Center Award (1979) for her lifetime achievement in the performing arts; the National Medal of the Arts (1987), presented at the White House; and thirteen Grammy Awards, including one in 1967 for her lifetime achievement. In 1989 she became the first recipient of the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named "Ella" in her honor. Throughout her career she was admired and praised by other musicians of all kinds. Beginning in the early 1970s, Fitzgerald had eyesight problems complicated by diabetes. She also suffered from circulatory system complications. In 1986 she had heart surgery, but she returned to the concert stage the next year. Despite these illnesses, she continued to perform at least once a month into the early 1990s. In 1993 both of her legs were amputated below the knees. She died at her Beverly Hills home on June 15, 1996. In her music career Ella Fitzgerald made more recordings than nearly anyone else in jazz history. The popular singer Bing Crosby summed up the musical legacy of Ella Fitzgerald: "Man, woman, or child, Ella is the greatest."

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1328
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Ella Fitzgerald (25 Apr 1917–15 Jun 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1328, citing Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .