Ella Fitzgerald Biography

The First Lady of Song


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Ella Fitzgerald live

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald started out in the mid-30s, releasing duets with male singers.

Her first hit came with drummer and bandleader Chick Webb and their song ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket. It became one of the biggest selling records of the 30s and brought them nationwide success.

After Chick passed away, Ella continued with the band, now renamed ‘Ella and Her Famous Orchestra’. They recorded 150 songs until 1942 when Ella decided to go solo.

Most recordings in the 30s were novelty stuff, as the 40s rolled in with Bebop, Fitzgerald took to this style and started performing her famed scat-singing solos.

Most successfully so in collaboration with Dizzy Gilespie’s band. She described it as “I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing.”

Lost in Bebop until 1954, Ella reached a breaking point. She said:

“I had gotten to the point where I was only singing be-bop. I thought be-bop was ‘it’, and that all I had to do was go some place and sing bop. But it finally got to the point where I had no place to sing. I realized then that there was more to music than bop. Norman … felt that I should do other things, so he produced Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book with me. It was a turning point in my life.”

Indeed it was, it was the starting point of a concept she would keep up for almost a decade. The name said it all:

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter (56), Rodgers & Hart (56), Duke Ellington (57), the Irving Berlin (58), George and Ira Gershwin (59), Harold Arlen (61), Jerome Kern (63), Johnny Mercer (64) Song Book.

In many ways, Ella’s versions made these songs, music journalist love to praise this body of work when they talk about the great American songbook and how its a gift to the American culture.

One thing is certain, if you want to play jazz, you have to look into the songs Ella Fitzgerald performed as she pretty much sang them all!

Between 1950 and 1988, Ella Fitzgerald released 61 studio albums and 25 live albums.

Related Pages

Baby Won’t You Please Come Home – Guitar Lesson

Baby Won't You please Come Home‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home’ is a Jazz/Blues written by Clarence Williams.

Sung by Bessie Smith, Nat King Cole & Ella Fitzgerald it has become a jazz standard.

Go to video lessons: Baby Won’t You Please Come Home chords.

Baby Won’t You please Come Home – Lyrics

Baby Wont You Please Come HomeBaby won’t you please come home
‘Cause your mama’s all alone
I have cried in vain, never no more to call your name
When you left you broke my heart
‘Cause I never thought we’d part

For complete lyrics, go to Baby Won’t You please Come Home lyrics.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Guitar Lesson

Dream A Little Dream Of MeI’ve recorded Mama Cass classic version of ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ almost note for note.

That’s until the chorus kicks in. On the original recording, there is very little guitar so this section has been arranged almost from scratch to work on one acoustic guitar.

This is often the case when arranging for one guitar. You can work out some parts but have to invent others.

Go to video lessons: Dream A Little Dream Of Me chords.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Lyrics

Dream A Little Dream Of MeStars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me
Say nighty night and kiss me

For complete lyrics, go to Dream A Little Dream Of Me lyrics.

Get Ready – Guitar Lesson

‘Get Ready’ is a song that moves from a repetitive Minor Pentatonic verse riff to a simple four-chord chorus progression.

In the course, we’ll first play the chorus chords all over the neck before I show you how to construct your own chorus part.

When the solo comes along we take the original sax and string ideas and put them on the guitar.

Finally, you get to play the entire song with a live band!

Preview video lessons: Get Ready

Get Ready – Lyrics

I never met a girl who makes me feel the way that you do (you’re alright)
Whenever I’m asked who makes my dreams real I say that you do (you’re outta sight)
So fee di fi, fo di dum. Look out baby ’cause here I come
And I’m bringing you a love that’s true so get ready, so get ready
I’m gonna try to make you love me too so get ready, so get ready, here I come

For complete lyrics, go to Get Ready lyrics.

Sunshine Of Your Love – Guitar Lesson

Sunshine Of Your LoveThis one guitar version of ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’ is a combination of Creams original and Spanky Wilson’s cover.

Using the main riff as a starting point over this blues, the I chord has sometimes been extended to a dom7#9.

Go to video lessons: Sunshine Of Your Love chords.

Sunshine Of Your Love – Lyrics

Sunshine Of Your LoveIt’s getting near dawn
When lights close their tired eyes
I’ll soon be with you my love
To give you my dawn surprise
I’ll be with you darling soon

For complete lyrics, go to Sunshine Of Your Love lyrics.

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