Born 25 April 1917, The 'First Lady of Song' is being honoured with special concerts, events, releases and broadcasts
Today marks 100 years since the birth of Ella Fitzgerald. Known as the ‘First Lady of Song’ and the ‘Queen of Jazz’, her life and music are being celebrated across the world with special concerts, events and broadcasts. New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Centre will host a star studded gala hosted by Harry Connick Jr., while an exhibition of photos and costumes will open today at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles – Ella was the first African American recipient of a Grammy Award in 1958.
In Washington DC, the National Museum of American History will display a number of her awards, photographs, recordings, scrapbooks, sheet music, and personal memorabilia, plus the Presidential Medal of Freedom she received from George HW Bush; a drawing of her by Pablo Picasso, and a portrait painted by her friend Tony Bennett.
Verve records have released 100 of Fitzgerald’s most popular tracks, including ‘Summertime,’ ‘Mack The Knife,’ and ‘I've Got You Under My Skin,’ in a new career-spanning 4CD box set titled 100 Songs For A Centennial, while her Gershwin songbook will be reissued on vinyl for the first time since its original release in 1959, accompanied by five lithographs by French impressionist painter Bernard Buffet, as well as the hardcover book, Words And Music. Later in the year, the label will revisit some of the famous duets between Ella and Louis Armstrong, and the London Symphony Orchestra will release a collection of classical arrangements using samples of the original vocal tracks.
At this evening’s Jazz FM Awards Ceremony, Laura Mvula will pay tribute to Ella in her live performance. Donny McCaslin and the PPL Lifetime Achievement Award winner Georgie Fame are also set to perform. You can hear the whole event online at jazzfm.com, with coverage backstage on air from 7 o’clock tonight.