New York with her mother shortly after her birth. In 1 932, Fitzgerald mother died and she moved In with her aunt. She was eventually sent to a reform school, but ran away at the age of fifteen and was homeless for a while. She found work wherever she could, but it was a struggle. Looking back on those days, she chose to use the memories as inspiration to bring emotion to her singing. Growing up, Fitzgerald was a fan of Jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Being Crosby, but she had always dreamed of being a dancer.
In 1934, the Apollo Theater in Harlem had an amateur night. Fitzgerald was planning on dancing, until she saw all of the talented dancers that went before her. She then decided to sing, and ended up winning the contest and the $25 prize. She was seventeen years old at the time. In January 1935, Fitzgerald was introduced to Chick Webb, who was looking for a singer to Join his orchestra. He almost didn’t hire her because of her looks, but he gave her a chance and audiences loved her. Fitzgerald played with Webb until his death In 1939. She then became the bandleader for three more years, before embarking on a solo career.
Fitzgerald had hit after hit during this time and in 1938 she recorded “A Tickets a Tasked” which sold one million copies and was number one on the charts for seventeen weeks. In 1942, Fitzgerald signed with Decca label and recorded with many musicians such as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong and Count Basis. Then in 1946, Fitzgerald began touring with Jazz at the Philharmonic throughout the United States and in Europe. This gave her world-wide attention and she soon became one of the best- known international Jazz performers. Fitzgerald performed Jazz throughout her life, but In the 1 sass she began incinerating on popular music.
In 1956, Fitzgerald began to record a number of songbooks, working with the artists of Cole Porter, Duke Longtime and George Gershwin. She sang everything from bop to swing to well-known standards. These songbooks represented an attempt to cross over to a non-jazz audience. In 1970, Fitzgerald performed regularly with a number of symphony orchestras, as well as many famous artists such as Frank Sinatra. She also performed with a trio led by Tommy Flanagan. She also was featured in a number of films throughout her career. Fitzgerald retired in 1990 due to poor health. She died in 1996 at the age of seventy-nine.
Throughout her life, she had great success, winning thirteen Grammas. She also sold over forty million albums and was presented the National Medal of Arts by President Reagan. Fitzgerald had a wide range (three octaves) and a very versatile voice. Bebop had a huge Impact on her and she became a premier scat singer. An example of this Is her song “One Note Samba. ” She has an amazing ability to form many different sounds quickly, producing the sound of instruments with her voice. She had a powerful, strength was “Black Coffee. ” It was a slower-tempo song that expressed great motion. Summertime” was a song that Fitzgerald performed using a smooth swing style. Her tones are very pure and every word is clear and flows to the next. She also improve runs which adds to the Jazz feeling of the song. This song also highlighted her range. Another song with a swing feel was “Sweet Georgia Brown. ” Again, Fitzgerald has clear diction and pure tones that make her a pleasure to listen to. Music does not have to have words, but as we have seen in the case of Fitzgerald, words can often add to the song and help people relate to and enjoy the storyline.
Some instrumental pieces are great without words, but the passion Fitzgerald adds with her voice makes her music very enjoyable and enhances the listening experience. Even though many of Fitzgerald songs are considered popular music, she definitely is singing Jazz. She used scat singing in many of her songs along with a lot of improve. Other elements of Jazz in her songs are a steady beat and swing feel. The instruments that accompany her also have Jazz elements such as piano coming and time keeping provided by the bass and drums. It’s no wonder she was known as the “Queen of Jazz. ”