Happy 100th, Ella! American Musical Legend Ella Fitzgerald Born on this Day in 1917

Early Hardship Couldn't Muffle Ella Fitzgerald's Joy

Legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald (photo via npr.org)

article by Tom Vitale via npr.org

Ella Fitzgerald, who would have turned 100 today, was one of the most beloved and versatile singers of the 20th century. In a career that spanned six decades, Fitzgerald recorded hundreds of songs, including definitive versions of many standards. Along the way, she influenced generations of singers.

But the first thing that strikes you about Fitzgerald is that voice.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, who won a Grammy last year for Best Jazz Vocal Album, says a combination of qualities made Fitzgerald’s voice unique. “When you hear the tone of her voice — which has kind of a brightness, kind of a breathiness, but it also has this really great depth, and kind of a laser-like, really clear quality to it — it hits you,” she says.

Salvant, 27, says she learned to sing jazz standards by listening to Fitzgerald’s versions.

“I remember being 17 and living in France and feeling really homesick and wanting to go back to Miami, and listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,’ ” Salvant says. “And I would listen to that all day. All day. For, like, weeks. And it felt — it created a home for me.”

Fitzgerald had perfect pitch, impeccable diction and a remarkable sense of rhythm. And it all came naturally to her, as she told the CBC in 1974.  “What I sing is only what I feel,” she said. “I had some lady ask me the other day about music lessons and I never — except for what I had to learn for my half-credit in school — I’ve never given it a thought. I’ve never taken breathing lessons. I had to go for myself, and I guess that’s how I got a style.”

That style was an immediate hit. Fitzgerald was discovered at an amateur contest and began her professional career when she was only 16, singing with the Chick Webb Orchestra at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. When she was 21, she became internationally famous with a hit record based on a nursery rhyme, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”

Tony Bennett says that when he was starting out as a young singer, Ella Fitzgerald was his idol. “She was a complete swinger,” he says. “She just understood the whole art of jazz phrasing.” Continue reading

Photo of Jazz Legend Ella Fitzgerald Going on Display at National Portrait Gallery Museum in D.C.

via blackamericaweb.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Portrait Gallery is putting up a photograph of American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, often referred to as “The First Lady of Song.”

The portrait is on view beginning Thursday, ahead of the 100th anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birth. Fitzgerald, who died in 1996 at the age of 79, would have celebrated her 100th birthday April 25.

The National Portrait Gallery said in a statement the photograph on display is of Fitzgerald in performance flanked by Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie and Milt Jackson. It was taken around 1974 by William Gottlieb, who learned to use a camera to take pictures to accompany his weekly music column for The Washington Post. It’s the first time the photograph has been displayed at the museum.

It will be on view through May 14.

Source: Photo Of Ella Fitzgerald Going On Display At DC Museum | Black America Web

Born On This Day in 1924: Legendary Jazz Drummer Max Roach

Max Roach Birthday

Pioneering percussionist, composer, band leader, and drummer Max Roach was born Maxwell Lemuel “Max” Roach in North Carolina to parents Alphonse and Cressie, and worked with dozens of musical greats, including Miles Davis, Charles MingusThelonious Monk, and Dizzy Gillespie

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Rare Black Images From Ebony Magazine Finally Available To Public

Eartha Kitt (left); Dizzy Gillespie (Ebony Collection)

You’ve heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos have the ability to tell complex stories, convey important information and elicit emotional responses from viewers who may know nothing of the subject matter. One frame can change the world. Think of the iconic photographs that have come to symbolize a movement, a way of being or a slice of life.

Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima“; Moneta Sleet Jr.’s “Deep Sorrow,” featuring Coretta Scott King at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.; James Van Der Zee’s photo of black nationalist and pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey; Elizabeth “Tex” Williams’ war photographs; Art Kane’s “A Great Day in Harlem“; Gordon Parks’ “American Gothic“; Carrie Mae Weems’ “Kitchen Table Series“; and Jean Moutoussamy-Ashe’s photo book, Daddy and Me, featuring images of her late husband, tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe, with their daughter, Camera. 

Photos offer us a peek into unknown worlds and, in some cases, worlds we know all too well. Chronicling our lives and society, they capture history and the profound experiences of a complex world. The Johnson Publishing Co.’s Ebony Collection, now available to the public for the first time, does just that. This historic photo archive offers 2,000 photos taken over the last 70 years, documenting the rich and layered black experience in the United States.

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Born On This Day in 1917: Jazz Legend Dizzy Gillespie

Ninety-five years ago today, jazz trumpet innovator and bebop pioneer John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie was born in Cheraw, South Carolina.  Gillespie, who famously lead his own orchestra as well as recorded with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, is best known for his compositions “Salt Peanuts,” “Woody N’ You” and “A Night In Tunisia,” as well as popularizing Afro-Cuban jazz in the United States. Learn more about his life and music by clicking here and watch his “Manteca” above.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson