‘The First Lady of Song’ won a talent show at The Apollo in 1934. After fronting Chick Webb’s orchestra, she had hits with Louis Jordan‘s band and The Delta Rhythm Boys. Working with be-bop star Dizzie Gillespie, she developed her ‘scat’ singing with her influential 1945 recording of ‘Flying Home’, but when she recorded The Cole Porter Songbook, her career went stellar. Further ‘songbooks’ followed and she became a legend all over the world for her huge range and delicate and inventive phrasing. She sang in ‘St. Louis Blues’in the film biography of WC Handy‘, and collaborated with the biggest names of the era, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. After a career that included fourteen Grammys, The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts, Ella passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 79.
Ella sings ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ in the WC Handy film;
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