By Dan Clendenin
Ella Fitzgerald (2019)
When it comes to origin stories, it would be hard to beat that of the American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald (1917–1996). After her mother died when she was fifteen years old, she pretty much lived on the streets of Harlem. Then, on November 21, 1934, at the age of seventeen, she entered the “Amateur Night” contest at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Her appearance was noticeably disheveled, she was nervous because she had never sung in public, and the audience laughed and booed — that is, before she started to sing. Fast forward about two years, and by 1936 she had her first hit record and was on her way to becoming a global phenomenon. Her last public performance was in 1993. Across those nearly 60 years, Fitzgerald’s many awards included 14 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Itzhak Perlman said of Fitzgerald that “there’s only one thing you cannot teach, and that’s magic. You can’t. But when Ella turned a phrase, that was magic.” “She’s one of the reasons that makes you glad you are on this planet,” said another. I watched this film on Netflix.
Dan Clendenin: firstname.lastname@example.org
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