Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most acclaimed artists in the history of jazz.
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Updated on: August 30, 2006

Ella Fitzgerald

What's the Word?

Scat is a form of improvisational jazz singing, in which the human voice is used to deliver melodies rather than lyrics. Ella Fitzgerald was the supreme practitioner of this form.

One of the most acclaimed artists in the history of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald evolved as dramatically as the music itself did and enjoyed a career of extraordinary versatility and longevity. Her scat improvisations won adulation from a worldwide legion of fans, and her interpretations of what has come to be known as the Great American Songbook remain definitive.

Fitzgerald was a true innovator whose career spanned six decades. She served as one of the great ambassadors of jazz music. Fitzgerald managed to maintain her own artistic vision at the same time that she commanded the attention, audiences, and cultural influence of an upper-tier mainstream pop music star. To say that this is rare among prominent jazz artists would probably be the musical understatement of the century.

When she died in 1996 at the age of 79, an unprecedented wave of an emotion hard to describe—part grief, part love, part joy—swept music lovers around the world.

Potent Quote

Among the most prolific and enduring musicians of the twentieth century, Fitzgerald was always focused on the next goal: “It isn't where you came from,” she advised. “It's where you're going that counts.”

To Learn More About Ella Fitzgerald …

Visit museum.media.org/ella/index.html for detailed bio of Ella, a discography, and information on her historic performances at Carnegie Hall.

Excerpted from

The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History
The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History
Melba J. Duncan
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History © 2003 by Melba J. Duncan. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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