Notoriously shy except when on stage, Ella Fitzgerald was born on this day Apr 25 1917 (although Wikipedia insists it was 1918!) in Newport News, Virginia. The “First Lady of Song”, Ella was a self-trained vocalist and premier interpreter of the Great American Songbook (aka GAS). Here she is doing an evocative rendition of Stormy Weather with my favorite guitarist, Joe Pass (Hanover, 1975).
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Ella’s biography is truly inspirational. After the death of her mother in the early 30’s, Ella drifted. She dropped out of school, eventually worked as a bordello lookout and mafia runner, and ended up in reform school. At 17 she appeared in a competition at the Harlem Opera House where she intended to dance. Intimidated by the dancing skills of the preceding act, at the last moment she decided instead to sing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Judy”. She stunned the audience and the rest is history….