In , Fitzgerald left the band to begin a solo career. With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands , a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie 's big band. It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire.
While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald recalled, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing. Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness.
Although the tour was a big hit with audiences and set a new box office record for Australia, it was marred by an incident of racial discrimination that caused Fitzgerald to miss the first two concerts in Sydney, and Gordon had to arrange two later free concerts to compensate ticket holders. Although the four members of Fitzgerald's entourage — Fitzgerald, her pianist John Lewis , her assistant and cousin Georgiana Henry, and manager Norman Granz — all had first-class tickets on their scheduled Pan-American Airlines flight from Honolulu to Sydney, Fitzgerald, Henry and Lewis were ordered to leave the aircraft after they had already boarded and they were refused permission to re-board the aircraft to retrieve their luggage and clothing, and as a result they were stranded in Honolulu for three days before they could get another flight to Sydney.
Although a contemporary Australian press report  quoted an Australian Pan-Am spokesperson who denied that the incident was racially based, Fitzgerald, Henry, Lewis and Granz filed a civil suit for racial discrimination against Pan-Am in December  and in a television interview Fitzgerald confirmed that they had won the suit and received what she described as a "nice settlement". She left Decca and Granz, now her manager, created Verve Records around her.
She later described the period as strategically crucial, saying, "I had gotten to the point where I was only singing be-bop. I thought be-bop was 'it', and that all I had to do was go some place and sing bop. But it finally got to the point where I had no place to sing.
I realized then that there was more to music than bop. It was a turning point in my life. Bonnie Greer dramatized the incident as the musical drama, Marilyn and Ella , in It had previously been widely reported that Fitzgerald was the first black performer to play the Mocambo, following Monroe's intervention, but this is not true. African-American singers Herb Jeffries ,  Eartha Kitt ,  and Joyce Bryant  all played the Mocambo in and , according to stories published at the time in Jet magazine and Billboard.
The composers and lyricists spotlighted on each set, taken together, represent the greatest part of the cultural canon known as the Great American Songbook. Her song selections ranged from standards to rarities and represented an attempt by Fitzgerald to cross over into a non-jazz audience.
The sets are the most well-known items in her discography. Duke Ellington and his longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn both appeared on exactly half the set's 38 tracks and wrote two new pieces of music for the album: The Song Book series ended up becoming the singer's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, and probably her most significant offering to American culture.
The New York Times wrote in , "These albums were among the first pop records to devote such serious attention to individual songwriters, and they were instrumental in establishing the pop album as a vehicle for serious musical exploration.
Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians. While recording the Song Books and the occasional studio album, Fitzgerald toured 40 to 45 weeks per year in the United States and internationally, under the tutelage of Norman Granz. Granz helped solidify her position as one of the leading live jazz performers.
Though the relationship ended after a year, Fitzgerald regularly returned to Denmark over the next three years, and even considered buying a jazz club there. The house was sold in , and Fitzgerald permanently returned to the United States. Ella in Rome and Twelve Nights in Hollywood display her vocal jazz canon.
Ella in Berlin is still one of her best-selling albums; it includes a Grammy-winning performance of " Mack the Knife " in which she forgets the lyrics but improvises magnificently to compensate. Over the next five years she flitted between Atlantic , Capitol and Reprise. Her material at this time represented a departure from her typical jazz repertoire.
For Capitol she recorded Brighten the Corner , an album of hymns , Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas , an album of traditional Christmas carols , Misty Blue , a country and western -influenced album, and 30 by Ella , a series of six medleys that fulfilled her obligations for the label. During this period, she had her last US chart single with a cover of Smokey Robinson 's " Get Ready ", previously a hit for the Temptations , and some months later a top-five hit for Rare Earth.
The surprise success of the album Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72 led Granz to found Pablo Records , his first record label since the sale of Verve. Fitzgerald recorded some 20 albums for the label. Ella in London recorded live in with pianist Tommy Flanagan , guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Keter Betts and drummer Bobby Durham, was considered by many to be some of her best work.
Her years with Pablo Records also documented the decline in her voice. Take the ingenious prologue After Pete Kelly's Blues, she appeared in sporadic movie cameos, in St.
She was also frequently featured on The Ed Sullivan Show. Perhaps her most unusual and intriguing performance was of the "Three Little Maids" song from Gilbert and Sullivan 's comic operetta The Mikado alongside Joan Sutherland and Dinah Shore on Shore's weekly variety series in Fitzgerald also made a one-off appearance alongside Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey on a television special honoring Bailey.
In , she performed a medley of standards in a duet with Karen Carpenter on the Carpenters' television program Music, Music, Music.
Fitzgerald recorded three Verve studio albums with Louis Armstrong, two albums of standards 's Ella and Louis and 's Ella and Louis Again , and a third album featured music from the Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess.
Fitzgerald also recorded a number of sides with Armstrong for Decca in the early s. Fitzgerald is sometimes referred to as the quintessential swing singer, and her meetings with Count Basie are highly regarded by critics. With the 'New Testament' Basie band in full swing, and arrangements written by a young Quincy Jones , this album proved a respite from the 'Song Book' recordings and constant touring that Fitzgerald was engaged in during this period.
Fitzgerald and Joe Pass recorded four albums together toward the end of Fitzgerald's career. She recorded several albums with piano accompaniment, but a guitar proved the perfect melodic foil for her. Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington recorded two live albums and two studio albums. Their album Ella at Duke's Place is also extremely well received.
Fitzgerald had a number of famous jazz musicians and soloists as sidemen over her long career. Possibly Fitzgerald's greatest unrealized collaboration in terms of popular music was a studio or live album with Frank Sinatra. Pianist Paul Smith has said, "Ella loved working with [Frank]. Sinatra gave her his dressing-room on A Man and His Music and couldn't do enough for her. Illness and death[ edit ] Fitzgerald had suffered from diabetes for several years of her later life, which had led to numerous complications.
Confined to a wheelchair, she spent her final days in her backyard of her Beverly Hills mansion on Whittier, with her son Ray and year-old granddaughter, Alice. On her last day, she was wheeled outside one last time, and sat there for about an hour.
When she was taken back in, she looked up with a soft smile on her face and said, "I'm ready to go now. In tribute, the marquee read: Personal life[ edit ] Fitzgerald married at least twice, and there is evidence that suggests that she may have married a third time. Her first marriage was in , to Benny Kornegay, a convicted drug dealer and local dockworker.
The marriage was annulled in Together they adopted a child born to Fitzgerald's half-sister, Frances, whom they christened Ray Brown Jr. With Fitzgerald and Brown often busy touring and recording, the child was largely raised by his mother's aunt, Virginia. Fitzgerald and Brown divorced in , bowing to the various career pressures both were experiencing at the time, though they would continue to perform together.
She had even gone as far as furnishing an apartment in Oslo, but the affair was quickly forgotten when Larsen was sentenced to five months' hard labor in Sweden for stealing money from a young woman to whom he had previously been engaged. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig.
Granz required promoters to ensure that there was no "colored" or "white" seating. He ensured Fitzgerald was to receive equal pay and accommodations regardless of her sex, race, and identity.
If the conditions were not met shows were cancelled. Twelve African American Entertainers, referred to Fitzgerald as the "Civil Rights Crusader", facing discrimination throughout her career. In addition, she supported several nonprofit organizations like the American Heart Association, City of Hope, and the Retina Foundation. In , she received an honorary doctorate of Music from Harvard University. Please expand the section to include this information.
Further details may exist on the talk page. March Fitzgerald in by Erling Mandelmann The career history and archival material from Fitzgerald's long career are housed in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian 's National Museum of American History , while her personal music arrangements are at the Library of Congress.
Her extensive cookbook collection was donated to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University , and her extensive collection of published sheet music was donated to UCLA.
In , Newport News, Virginia created a week-long music festival with Christopher Newport University to honor Fitzgerald in her birth city. Callaway's album To Ella with Love features fourteen jazz standards made popular by Fitzgerald, and the album also features the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
Bridgewater's album Dear Ella featured many musicians that were closely associated with Fitzgerald during her career, including the pianist Lou Levy , the trumpeter Benny Powell, and Fitzgerald's second husband, double bassist Ray Brown.
Bridgewater's following album, Live at Yoshi's , was recorded live on April 25, , what would have been Fitzgerald's 81st birthday. Austin's album, For Ella features 11 songs most immediately associated with Fitzgerald, and a twelfth song, "Hearing Ella Sing" is Austin's tribute to Fitzgerald.
The album was nominated for a Grammy. In , We All Love Ella , was released, a tribute album recorded for the 90th anniversary of Fitzgerald's birth. Folk singer Odetta 's album To Ella is dedicated to Fitzgerald, but features no songs associated with her. Sinatra's recording of " Mack the Knife " from his album L. Is My Lady includes a homage to some of the song's previous performers, including 'Lady Ella' herself.
The theater is located several blocks away from her birthplace on Marshall Avenue. In , Rod Stewart performed a "virtual duet" with Ella Fitzgerald on his Christmas album Merry Christmas, Baby, and his television special of the same name.
On January 9, , the United States Postal Service announced that Fitzgerald would be honored with her own postage stamp. It celebrated what would have been her 96th birthday.