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Jazz April Birthday: Ella Fitzgerald


The "first lady of song" Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the U.S. for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold more than 40 million albums.

Ella won the Amateur Night competition at the famed Apollo Theatre in 1934, which led to her being hired by drummer and bandleader Chick Webb. She took over the bandleader's duties for a time after Webb died. Her big hit came in 1938 with her recording of  "A Tisket A Tasket."

Few fans know about the pivotal role Marilyn Monroe played in the jazz legend's life. 

Ella can be found no fewer than seven times on our list of 50 Greatest Jazz Vocals of All Time.

"A lot of singers think all they have to do is exercise their tonsils to get ahead. They refuse to look for new ideas and new outlets, so they fall by the wayside... I'm going to try to find out the new ideas before the others do."  — Ella Fitzgerald

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.

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