Ella Fitzgerald

Jazz Singer
Born Apr 25, 1917

Ella Fitzgerald, also known as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella", was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (D♭3 to D♭6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing. Fitzgerald was a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook.… Read More

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Ella Fitzgerald.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Ella Fitzgerald.


1917 Birth Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, the daughter of William Fitzgerald and Temperance "Tempie" Fitzgerald. … Read More
1923 6 Years Old Her half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923.
1925 8 Years Old By 1925, Fitzgerald and her family had moved to nearby School Street, then a predominantly poor Italian area.


1929 12 Years Old She began her formal education at the age of six and proved to be an outstanding student, moving through a variety of schools before attending Benjamin Franklin Junior High School from 1929. … Read More
1932 15 Years Old In 1932, her mother died from serious injuries she received in a car accident when Fitzgerald was 15 years of age.
1933 16 Years Old 1 More Event
This left her at first in the care of her stepfather but before the end of April 1933, she had moved in with her aunt in Harlem. … Read More
1935 18 Years Old In January 1935 Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House. … Read More


1938 - 1939 2 More Events
1941 24 Years Old Fitzgerald married at least twice, and there is evidence that she may have married a third time. Her first marriage was in 1941, to Benny Kornegay, a convicted drug dealer and local dockworker. The marriage was annulled in 1942.
1942 25 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Taking over the band after Webb died, Fitzgerald left it behind in 1942 to start a solo career that would last effectively the rest of her life. … Read More
1945 28 Years Old Her 1945 scat recording of "Flying Home" arranged by Vic Schoen would later be described by The New York Times as "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade.Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness." … Read More


1947 30 Years Old Her second marriage was in December 1947, to the famous bass player Ray Brown, whom she had met while on tour with Dizzy Gillespie's band a year earlier. … Read More
1953 36 Years Old Fitzgerald and Brown divorced in 1953, bowing to the various career pressures both were experiencing at the time, though they would continue to perform together.
1955 38 Years Old 1 More Event
Fitzgerald was still performing at Granz's JATP concerts by 1955. … Read More
1956 39 Years Old Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, released in 1956, was the first of eight Songbook sets Fitzgerald would record for Verve at irregular intervals from 1956 to 1964. … Read More


1957 40 Years Old In July 1957, Reuters reported that Fitzgerald had secretly married Thor Einar Larsen, a young Norwegian, in Oslo. … Read More
1961 44 Years Old …  In 1961 Fitzgerald bought a house in the Klampenborg district of Copenhagen, Denmark, after she began a relationship with a Danish man. … Read More
The house was sold in 1963, and Fitzgerald permanently returned to the United States. … Read More


1967 50 Years Old Fitzgerald won thirteen Grammy Awards, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967. … Read More


1979 62 Years Old Fitzgerald also made a one-off appearance alongside Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey on a 1979 television special honoring Bailey.
1980 63 Years Old In 1980, she performed a medley of standards in a duet with Karen Carpenter on the Carpenters' television program Music, Music, Music. … Read More
1985 68 Years Old In 1985, Fitzgerald was hospitalized briefly for respiratory problems, in 1986 for congestive heart failure, and in 1990 for exhaustion.
1990 73 Years Old In March 1990 she appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London, England with the Count Basie Orchestra for the launch of Jazz FM, plus a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel at which she performed.
1993 76 Years Old In 1993, she had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee due to the effects of diabetes. … Read More
In her New York Times obituary of 1996, Stephen Holder echoed the conventional critical view of the time in describing "the majority" of her recordings during this period as "novelties and disposable pop fluff".
Original Authors of this text are noted on
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.