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Ella Fitzgerald "The First Lady Of Song"

By: Peter Wells
Dated: Saturday, 02/10/2007

Ella Fitzgerald
Providence, RI- February 2, 2007 was not only the beginning of Black History Month observations but it was also the day that Ella Fitzgerald made history yet again. The presentation of the postage stamp by the US Postal Service in Providence Rhode Island places her stamp, "The First Lady of Song" as she was known throughout the music world, along side the 29 other notable Black Scholars, Musicians, Educators Scientist, Warriors and Philosophers who have achieved greatness in their respective fields of expertise in the Post Offices' Black History Gallery.
There were over 200 people who came out to celebrate the occasion with Dan Doyle, Providence Post-master, USPS and Bill Hodson, Lead Plant Manager. Entertainment for the program was provided by The Birch Beats Drum group under the Direction of Ms. Nisha with songs by Sharon Mazyck and Tish Adams. District Manager USPS SENE District Don Marshall gave remarks following the keynote address which was delivered by Joaquina Bela Teixeira, Executive Director, of the RI Black Heritage Society, John Clark, Clerk, Consumer Affairs, USPS sang the National Anthem. The program was well received as was lunch that followed.
Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) represents the 30th honoree in the Postal Service's Black heritage series. Her extraordinary vocal range and flexibility, combined with her gift for pitch, rhythmic sense and flawless dictation, made Ella one of America's most distinctive singers of jazz and popular tunes. The Ella Fitzgerald stamp image is a portrait based on a photograph taken around 1956 that captures the joy and excitement that Fitzgerald brought
to music.
Ella Fitzgerald was born April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Va. And later moved to Yonkers New York with her mother. In 1932 after the death of her mother she moved to Harlem and lived with an aunt, but by the time she was 16 she was on her own dancing on the street for tips. In November 1934 Ella entered an amateur competition at the historic Apollo Theatre to show off her dancing skills, but at the last minute she decided to sing instead and won. She was successful at winning another talent show at the Harlem opera House, which helped to bring her name to the attention of Chick Webb, who hired her to sing with his orchestra. In 1938 Ella co-wrote the number-one hit record "ATisket, A-Tasket" with Van Alexander a novelty song based on a child's rope
skipping rhyme, later performing with Dizzy Gillespie one of the architects of bebop. It was during this experience that Ella developed what would later make her even more famous for and that what became known as scatting. Ella went on to perform with Norman Granz who produced many of her albums and then in 1956 began recording the "Cole Porter Songbook" which included the works of Americas' elite songwriters. She re-corded more than 200 standards for the "Songbook" albums, among them were the works by Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer.
Ella recorded songs with such greats as Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson. Ella re-corded three key albums in Europe, "Ella in Rome", "Ella in Berlin" and "Ella Returns to Berlin", which are treasured in the industry and around the world. Ella broke many racial barriers - she was the first black artist to appear in various exclusive clubs around the United States, including the famed Copacabana in New York, in June 1957; and she sang at the inaugural gala for President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961.
Ella Fitzgerald also appeared in a small number of Hollywood films including "Ride 'Em Cowboy", a 1942 comedy with Abbott and Costello, "Pete Kelly's Blues" , " St. Louis Blues" which was released in 1958 and in 1960 "Let No Man Write My Epitaph". However one of Ella's most memorable live appearances was her "Is it live or is it Memorex" TV commercial of the early 1970's, in which she performed a high note to break a wine glass. Ella Fitzgerald "The First lady Of Song" continues to make Black History.

Tuesday, 02/20/2007
Volume No.: 21
Issue: 5