"The First Lady of Song" - Ella Fitzgerald

Essay by ForegoneLegacyJunior High, 9th gradeA, June 2006

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Ella Fitzgerald, "The First Lady of Song", was in a class of her own. She was probably the

most amazing female jazz singer of all time. She was blessed with a gorgeous voice and wide

range. Ella was "known for her pure and personal tone, remarkable voice control, ability to

improvise, and flawless intonation and phrasing" (Feather168). The only flaw Ella was known for

was her inability to sing the downbeat; all of songs were joyful and she did not know any other

way. Ella Fitzgerald's voice would become a soundtrack for many people's lives after 1935.

Ella was born on April 25, 1918 in Newport News, Virginia. As a child she was taken up

north to Yonkers, New York with her mother. She was taken to an orphanage soon after and

raised there, but she gives the credit of raising her to her aunt, Virginia Williams. She grew up in

poverty most of her life, and was practically homeless the year before she received her big break.

In 1941, she married Bernie Kornegay, a shipyard worker. But, they were quickly divorced in

1943. Ella married again in 1949 to Ray Brown, a jazz musician. From this marriage she was

given a son, Ray Jr., her only child. Unfortunately, this marriage did not work either and the two

were divorced in 1953.

During her teen years, Ella had won several amateur contests. Then at age 16 she entered

a Harlem talent show because of a dare. When she had entered she signed up as a dancer. When

she was called up to perform she could hardly move from stage fright. So, instead of dancing Ella

went out and sang. She sang two songs by the Boswell sisters, "Judy" and "The Object of My

Affection." She ended up winning...