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Ella Fitzgerald was born in Virginia on April 25, 1917 to an unknown father. At the age of 15, she decided to move in with her aunt in Harlem, following the death of her mother. Passionate about dance and music, she won first prize in an amateur show contest organized in Harlem in 1934. This success allowed her to be spotted by the drummer and bandleader Chick Webb who hired her as a singer in his big band. Very quickly, Ella Fitzgerald becomes the star and also the mascot of the group, recording many hits in her care.
At just 22 years old, Ella Fitzgerald learns of the death of her mentor Chick Webb and takes over the direction of the group which she renames Ella and Her Famous OrchestraThe group disbanded a few years later in 1942. From there, Ella Fitzgerald multiplies collaborations with various vocal ensembles and fashionable personalities, she begins a brilliant solo career that allows her to find the top of the charts. During this same period, she lends her voice in the great bebop orchestra of Dizzy Gillespie, demonstrating in this modernist context gifts of improvisation out of the ordinary transcended by an immense technical virtuosity. Her manager, Norman Granz, promoted the singer, whose genius he perceived as universal, by founding the Verve label.
Ella Fitzgerald embarked on historic recordings that soon assured her the aura of a true international star. After three anthology records with Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald established her reputation once and for all by revisiting the repertoire of the great American composers in her own way. Rewarded with prestigious distinctions, including 4 Grammy Awards in the category of best female variety singer, the one nicknamed "The First Lady of Song" was at the height of her popularity in the mid-1960s, both in the United States and internationally. In 1967, the Grammy Academy gave her a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for a life dedicated to music.
At the turn of the 70's, jazz began to lose steam and lost a part of its audience. Ella Fitzgerald nevertheless managed to bounce back in a grandiose way to begin what would be the last chapter of her gigantic career. Still very present in public despite her increasingly serious health problems due to her diabetes, she forms a magnificent duet with Joe Pass who is considered the ideal artist for the end of her career. Ella Fitzgerald will receive from Ronald Reagan, the National Medal of Arts and will even be elevated to the rank of national treasure.
Her diabetes became more complicated and made her almost blind. During 1993, the disease worsened so much that she had to have both her legs amputated. Ella Fitzgerald finally died in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996, surrounded by her family.