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Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz icon of the 20th century. She was born on April 25, 1917 in Virginia to William and Temperance Fitzgerald. The couple separated soon after Ella’s birth, and Temperance moved to New York with her boyfriend, Joseph De Silva. She had a half sister named Frances born in 1923. She attended a number of schools, but with both parents working full time jobs she soon began to cut school. She had dreamed of being a dancer since the third grade and would often perform for her classmates. She regularly attended the Methodist church of which her family were members, which was where she got her first exposure to music. Her mother died in 1932 of a heart attack, and young Ella ran away to live with her aunt to escape the abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepfather. She was brought to the authorities and placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum, from where she was moved to moved to a state reformatory called the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York.

Fitzgerald made her singing debut at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. She had initially wanted to perform as a dancer but saw the competition as being too fierce. At an amateurs night contest, she stepped on stage to sing a song by the Boswell Sisters, which left the audience in raptures. Fitzgerald won the $25 first prize and a chance to perform at the Harlem Opera House. Here she met Chick Webb. She joined his group as a singer and wrote and recorded several songs with them, including “Love and Kisses” in 1935, “A-Tisket A-Tasket” which became her first No. 1 hit and “I Found My Yellow Basket” her next No. 1 hit. She performed regularly the Savoy Ballroom, one of the most famous clubs in Harlem.

In 1942, she began her solo career with the Decca label with whom she recorded several hit songs. In 1942, she made her film debut with the comedy western “Ride ‘Em Cowboy”. She also performed in a series of live concerts with Norman Granz, who orchestrated the Jazz at the Philharmonic and also became her manager. Around

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