ELLA FITZGERALD DIED ON THIS DAY IN 1996.
Ella Fitzgerald, known as the “First Lady of Song” was an American jazz vocalist who interpreted much of the Great American Songbook.
Discovered in an amateur contest in 1932, she went on to became the top female jazz singer for decades. In 1958, Fitzgerald made history as the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. Due in no small part to her vocal quality, with lucid intonation and a broad range, the singer would go on to win 13 Grammys in total and sell more than 40 million albums. Her multi-volume “songbooks” are among jazz music’s recording treasures. She made some of her most popular albums for the Verve label, starting out with 1956’s Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book. At the very first Grammy Awards in 1958, Fitzgerald picked up her first two Grammys—and made history as the first African-American woman to win the award.A truly collaborative soul, Fitzgerald produced great recordings with such artists as Louis Armstrong and Count Basie. In 1960, Fitzgerald broke into the pop charts with her rendition of “Mack the Knife.” She was still going strong well into the ’70s, playing concerts across the globe. One especially memorable concert series from this time was a two-week engagement in New York City in 1974 with Sinatra and Basie. Fitzgerald died in California in 1996.