One hundred years ago today, “First Lady of Song” and queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia (1917). Her smooth voice and technical skill remain unmatched in the jazz world decades after her death.
Fitzgerald got her start at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem when she was just 17 years old. She had intended to dance during her performance, but a prior dancing act intimidated her so much that she decided to sing instead. She won first prize for the night.
Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy Awards over the course of her life, including one at the inaugural show in 1958. She also received the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement.