Ella Fitzgerald en concert en 1963, au Hammersmith Odeon de Londres.
Ella Fitzgerald en concert en 1963, au Hammersmith Odeon de Londres.  © Getty  /  Ronald Dumont

8 Songs to Help You Discover Ella Fitzgerald

During the course of her career, Ella Fitzgerald recorded over two thousand songs. Let's dive into her discography...

Ella Fitzgerald (1917 - 1996) is one of the greatest voices of the 20th century. She joined the likes of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Count Basie, in the 1930s, when jazz was still largely seen as 'music for bad boys'. 

Ella Fitzgerald was a masterful performer and improviser. She toured throughout the United States and Europe, recording more than 200 albums and selling nearly 40 million records. 

We have selected eight songs, some legendary, some less well known, to help you discover or rediscover the immense talent of Ella Fitzgerald...

Drop Me Off In Harlem

So called because Harlem was where the singer first began her career.
Harlem also acts a symbol of diversity, the cultural turmoil of the twentieth century and the Civil Rights movement, struggles that shaped the singer's career.

A-tisket, A-tasket

A-tisket, A-tasket was recorded and released in 1938, when the singer was only 21 years old. This was her first commercial hit. She performed it live on stage with drummer Chick Webb's band. 

It was a version of popular musical theme and lullaby that all American children would have know. Ella Fitzgerald sang it in the car during her first tour. One of the band musicians heard her and suggested that he rearrange the theme for the stage.

Blue Skies

Ella Fitzgerald made a huge impact on jazz history with her talent as an improviser. She played with her voice as a musician plays with his instrument, agilely launching into long scat sequences.

It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

It's not for nothing that the press named her the First Lady of Swing. Ella Fitzgerald had a natural sense of rhythm and swing, which still makes people want to dance. 

As Ella Fitzgerald's favourite composer Duke Ellington wrote  "It don't mean a thing, if it's not got that swing". 

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)

A few years after the death of her first mentor, Chick Webb, the young singer met Norman Granz, the impresario who launched her career on international scale. 

For their first record together for his new label, Verve Records, Granz asked Fitzgerald to perform one of the greatest hits by American composer Cole Porter. The record this song appears on was, in 2003, added to the list of the American National Recording Registry, a collection chosen and preserved by the Congress of the United States.

Cheek to cheek

Ella Fitzgerald's career was shaped by a number of collaborations, both on the stage and in the recording studio, with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. 

It's said that Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong made each other laugh that they regularly had to interrupt their recording sessions.

Summertime

Une des plus célèbres collaborations entre Ella Fitzgerald et Louis Armstrong est certainement leur version jazz de l’opéra de George Gershwin, Porgy and Bess.

Gershwin, compositeur du début du XXe siècle, est un personnage emblématique de la ville de New York. Il a su mêler les sonorités du jazz et des musiques populaires à celles du répertoire classique, et la voix d’Ella Fitzgerald, ample et souple, a parfaitement su s’approprier ses compositions.

Can’t buy me love

Can't Buy Me Love was written by The Beatles, the hugely successful British band. They released the song in 1964, and only a few months later that Ella Fitzgerald included it on her album Hello, Dolly! Demonstrating that the First Lady of Swing was a curious, engaged jazz singer, who was capable of performing anything. 

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