by Richard Frooman, c. 1912
Accession number: 2002.536
Ella Fitzgerald (1917—1996) was a native of Newport News. She had her first hit ("A-Tisket, A-Tasket") with the Chick Webb Band in 1938. In the 1940s she gained renown as a jazz singer and for scat, the wordless vocal improvisation that became her signature. Already known as "The First Lady of Jazz", she became the "First Lady of Song" for her masterful renditions of "The Great American Songbook" in the 1950s—songs by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. In the 1960s she was among the most famous entertainers in the world. She won thirteen Grammy awards. Bing Crosby said, "Man, woman, or child, Ella is the greatest of them all."