Ella Fitzgerald

Birth Name
Ella Jane Fitzgerald
Date of Birth
25 April 1917
Birth Town
Newport News, Virginia, United States of America

Known as the ‘first lady of song’. Ella was an American singer who sang over 2000 songs and recorded over 200 albums. She was the first African-American woman to win a Grammy, and she won 12 more in her lifetime. Behind the voice was a strong-willed and talented woman with dreams she fought hard to fulfil.

National Inheritance

Parents named William Fitzgerald and Temperance Henry. The couple were never married but lived two and a half years together after the birth of Ella. Her mother later met a Portuguese immigrant called Joseph Da Silva, and they started dating. They had a daughter together, but the family lacked financial capacity. They moved to a poor neighbourhood and Ella began her formal education at the age of six. She turned out to be an outstanding student. Ella took an interest in dancing and practiced in front of her friends. Her interest in the church also helped her groom her music and dancing skills.

Since Ella’s family were poor, Ella tried to help out as much as she could. The young lady helped her family by working as a messenger and a lookout for brothels in the area. Unfortunately, after some time her mother died from the severe injuries of a car accident. Ella was only 15 years old when it happened. She stayed barely a few months longer with her stepfather before moving to stay with her aunt who lived in Harlem. Some speculate that Ella suffered abuse by stepfather but the singer never discussed this part of her life.

After moving in with her aunt. Ella dropped out of school and became involved with a bad crowd. She took part in illegal activities and was arrested. Ella didn’t speak about this time of her life either. The authorities sent her to the Coloured Orphan Asylum in Riverdale. When this orphanage became overcrowded, they moved Ella again to the New York Training School for Girls. She escaped from this place and became homeless.

Following living on the street for years, Ella performed at a contest in the Apollo theatre. Her intentions were to dance but seeing a dance duo perform before her, Ella became intimidated and opted for singing. She won the competition despite her disheveled appearance but was not given the gift of performing afterward because of this.

In January 1935, the young Fitzgerald was introduced to Chick Webb. He was a drummer and a bandleader searching for a singer. He was unsure about Ella because of her appearance but still gave her a chance. Ella and the band became a sensation. She left them later to go solo. Ella Fitzgerald’s career was highly successful. She became a popular vocalist. She featured in TV shows, commercials, political and social events. She was married twice in her lifetime and none successful. Ella lived as a civil rights activist. She died of a stroke after suffering from diabetes, exhaustion, and heart problems.

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