Born: 25 April 1917
Died: 15 June 1996 (diabetes)
Birthplace: Newport News, Virginia
Best known as: Jazz vocalist known for scat singing
Ella Fitzgerald was a pop and jazz singer who had her first hit record in 1938 with the Chick Webb Band's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." Raised in New York City, she began recording with bands in 1935 and embarked on a solo career in 1942. Known primarily for her jazz-oriented approach in phrasing and rhythm -- she's easily the most famous woman scat singer in history -- Fitzgerald became a mainstream popular success on the strength of her Songbook recordings, a series of interpretations of American songwriters. Her first in the series was a 1956 release of Cole Porter songs; she went on to record songs by Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and others. Around the same time she popped up on television and in the movies, most memorably in a highlight of the film Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). Later in her career she recorded and performed with orchestras as well as small combos, and by the time she retired in 1992 she had assumed the role of America's grande dame of popular jazz. In nearly sixty years of recording she was the recipient of just about every major award, including more than a dozen Grammys and a Presidential Medal of Freedom (1992, presented by George H.W. Bush).
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