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Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), aka Lady Ella (The First Lady of Song) is probably one of the most influential female jazz vocalists of the 20th century, along with Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday.

Well known for her pure tone, 3-octave vocal range, intonation, and lyrical phrasing, Ella Fitzgerald proved to be a very gifted vocalist.

Her improvised 'scat' singing, was almost horn-like, and is revered by many of today's jazz vocalists as pure genius.

Lady Ella led a troublesome life after her mother died in 1932. Having lost both her parents (her father left shortly after she was born), Ella's schoolwork lagged and she began to skip class.

After being caught by th police, young Ella was sent to a reform school, but soon escaped and became homeless.

Ella Fitzgerald was discovered at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York when she was 16 years old. After winning a draw to compete in one of the famous Apollo Amateur Nights, she opted to sing a Hoagy Carmichael tune in stead of her original act of dancing (she was intimidated by a well-known, local dance act) The crowd loved her performance and she won first prize.

She was hired by Chick Webb (jazz drummer) and the rest is history.

Some of her best work includes her recording of 'How High the Moon', her series of standards from the Great American Songbook, and her duet recordings with Louis Armstrong.

Ella Fitzgerald died in 1996 of complications from her diabetes.
Somewhere there's music, how faint the tune?
Somewhere there's heaven, how high the moon?

Ella Fitzgerald is a vocal virtuoso.
by au-town July 30, 2006
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