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Online Collections

Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra

photograph

ca. 1940

Born April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, Ella Fitzgerald, "the first lady of song," enjoyed a singing career spanning over six decades. With her clear tone and three-octave range, she became the preeminent jazz singer of her generation, recording more than 2,000 songs, selling over 40 million albums, and winning 13 Grammy Awards, including one in 1967 for Lifetime Achievement. This 1940 publicity photo shows Fitzgerald at the start of her career. After winning a talent contest at Harlem's Apollo theater, she went on to perform at the Harlem Opera House before landing a job in 1935 as the featured vocalist with one of the era's top big bands. She made her first recording, "Love and Kisses," later that year with the band's leader, Chick Webb. A swing version of the classic nursery rhyme "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," "Love and Kisses" was co-written by Fitzgerald and Webb and released in 1938. It was Fitzgerald's first hit and made her a national star. After Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald continued fronting the band until they broke up in 1942. As noted in the caption of this photo, the band was billed as "Ella Fitzgerald and Her Legendary Orchestra."

Materialpaper | gelatin | developing out process
OriginNew York, NY
Object ID90.528

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