Ella Fitzgerald | KNKX

Ella Fitzgerald

Courtesy of Greta Matassa

Since she was 14, Seattle jazz singer Greta Matassa has been drawn to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. She considers Ella a major influence and uses her singing as a teaching tool for her voice students.

Tuesday is Ella's 100th birthday. To celebrate, Matassa sat down with KNKX to talk about her life with Ella.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

As the years go by, it can be harder and harder to find singers and bands that still perform the original charts from the '30s and '40s, which include Ella Fitzgerald's first big hit with the Chick Webb Orchestra, the 1938 recording of “A Tisket, A Tasket.”

In Tacoma, you can find the Swing Reunion Orchestra doing just that. The Swing Reunion Orchestra performs free concerts at the McKinley VFW in Tacoma the last Mondays of the month, and first and foremost, they want their music to sound authentic.

AP Photo

Known as the "First Lady of Jazz" singer Ella Fitzgerald was born April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia.

From rather humble beginnings Fitzgerald and her smooth, silky voice climbed to the top of the jazz world, reports Biography.com. During her long career she worked with greats from Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong to Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. In all Ella recorded over 200 albums and around 2,000 songs in her lifetime. She died on June 15, 1996.

Here’s five videos celebrating the great singers career:

Jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is recognized by millions around the world. But few know about her career-defining friendship with Marilyn Monroe, to whom Fitzgerald said she “owe a real debt.”

While touring in the ’50s under the management of Norman Granz, Fitzgerald, like many African-American musicians at the time, faced significant adversity as a result of her race, especially in the Jim Crow states. Granz was a huge proponent of civil rights, and insisted that all of his musicians be treated equally at hotels and venues, regardless of race.