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Ella Fitzgerald's Biography

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As with others including Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, there are conflicting reports from reputable sources as to when Ella Fitzgerald was born. Many reliable sources record that Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1917.

After her parents parted, Ella went with her mother, Temperance to New York. Unfortunately, in 1932 Temperance died in a car accident and tough times hit the young Ella.

In 1934, however, Ella Fitzgerald was discovered in an amateur contest sponsored by the Apollo Theatre in New York City.

In January 1935 she won the chance to perform with the Tiny Bradshaw band, and as a result met drummer and band leader Chick Webb. Eventually, Ella Fitzgerald joined the Chick Webb Orchestra with whom she recorded her first body of songs.

Although her first record, 'Love and Kisses' was in 1936, Ella Fitgerald's first major hit was in 1938 with "A Tisket, A Tasket". It was a number one and sold one million copies.

After Chick Webb's death in 1939, Ella Fitzgerald took over leadership of the band until 1942 when she focussed on her solo career.

In 1948, her husband, bass player, Ray Brown persuaded her to go on stage at one of Norman Granz's famous Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, where she soon became a regular.

Granz became a major influence, and she made the legendary Songbook recordings of the work of great American songwriters on his Verve label. Ira Gershwin remarked: "I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them."

Ella went from strength to strength and she became the most popular female jazz singer in the United States selling over 40 million albums.

"The First Lady of Jazz" as Ella Fitzgerald became known, also won many critical accolades and awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors by the White House for lifetime achievement in the performing arts in 1979.

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