Ella Jane Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia. Her mother worked as a domestic, she never knew her father. The family moved to Yonkers, New York while Ella was still a young girl, and she was soon joined by a half-sister, Frances Da Silva.
Ella's mother died in 1932 and she and Frances went to live with an aunt in Harlem. It was there in Harlem, in 1934, that Ella was discovered during an amateur night at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Soon, Ella was singing with Chick Webb and his Orchestra. It was for Chick that Ella wrote her first big hit: "A Tisket, A Tasket", in 1938.
Ella has recorded for many different labels, but perhaps her biggest success came with the recordings she made with her manager, the great Jazz Impresario, Norman Granz. Norman was the man behind "Jazz At The Philharmonic"; and we all remember the great "Song Book" series that Norman produced for Ella. Ella revolutionized the music world with her perfect pitch, melodious voice and her unforgettable ability to "scat".
Ella was married for a time to the great Jazz bassist, Ray Brown; together they had a son, Ray Brown, Jr.
After a long career, that included 13 Grammy Awards, countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of the Arts (and many, many others), Ella performed her last concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991. She passed away due to complications from Diabetes, dying in her Beverly Hills home on June 15, 1996.