Your Ella Fitzgerald Letters
I've been collecting the letters and stories that readers have sent in, ever since this page came to life in 1997. It never really occured to me to put them on the site until recently. I'll stick mostly to the ones that share stories about seeing or meeting Ella. I get a lot of very (*very*) nice notes saying how much someone liked the page, but putting those up, as much as I love them (and I really do, they make my day!) , would be too much like bragging. So here they are, the stories, -- and many thanks to the contributors.
Anyway, I saw Ella just before her end :( I believe that it was at Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto. She was carried on stage like a little old lady. Then she cleared her throat and literally brought the house down. She was so concerned about the people sitting behind her ( the give away seats) and their ability to see and hear her.....A night that I will never forget...
Thanks for the moment relived
Women In Transition
You have a nice tribute page to Ella. It seems in California these days every restaurant and bar plays Ella as background music. And I'm not complaining. Those recordings are as soothing, luxurious, and indulgent as a narcotic.
What has long struck me about Ella Fitzgerald is the childlike timbre of her voice: for me it conveys a startling, heart-wrenching worldly innocence which, coupled with the sophistication of the material and her own technical mastery, creates in her tunes a tension, a resonance that makes them eternally captivating: you can listen to them night after night and not exhaust them. She sings lines like "old love, new love, any love but true love" with the voice of a little girl. It slays me.
Give a little credit to her undercredited arrangers. The fine print on the Cole Porter discs says "Orchestra arranged and conducted by Buddy Bregman." Who WERE these phenomenal monsters? They make Nelson Riddle's outfit sound like a Fresno pickup band. For me about half the joy off these recordings comes from the intoxicating orchestrations.
Well, enough of my opinionated bluster. Keep the faith and happy listening.
I just want to say that I really liked your webpage devoted to the one andonly late and great Ella Fitzgerald. Today I went to the National AmericanHistory Museum in Washington D.C. and they have an Ella exhibit on the secondfloor. It's free of charge and shows her on tv singing...perhaps even on theCarol Burnett show. it's small but has some great stuff, clothes, keys tocities, and a Picasso of her signed by Picasso himself...
Hey, I really enjoyed your tribute and page to Ella. She is and always will be the Queen! I unfortunately did not discover her until the day she died.. I was driving home from work one night, listening to National Public Radio, and there was a tribute to her, and they played some of her songs.. I as well was absolutely mesmerized by her voice! It is so pure! WOW... What a gal. She will definately live on forever! I played the Cd's that I have over and over and over... My husband got so sick of hearing her- I had to put them away for a little while! :) I as well have introduced her to my friends and they went out and bought the CD's- and bought me more! I am 26- and not many of my friends would normally listen to this, but once you get "bitten" by the Ella bug, there is no going back! I am looking right now for the Holiday album, I think I will go tommorrow and look, my Bing Crosby CD is getting worn out....
I heard an intriguing rumor about Ella Fitzgerald a while ago, and I'm wondering if it's true before I try to find the actual recording. But I get ahead of myself.
I heard that in one of her live, recorded concerts (assuming there was such a thing) the audience asked that she sing Mack the Knife. She protested that she didn't know all the words, but eventually they got her to sing it anyway. She had the first bit perfect, and then ended up making up words (that rhymed perfectly) to go along with it. And this is supposed to be one of the funniest recordings ever. Or so I hear. I was wondering if you knew anything about it?
Note: I get a lot of questions about this song, and it does exist, and it's not too hard to find. For any of you who haven't heard it, it's wonderful. Ella forgets the words to "Mack the Knife" halfway through and makes up the rest. It becomes a tribute to the original writers of the song, and to Louis Armstrong, while keeping perfectly in tune with the original. In the end she sings "and now Ella, and her fellas, we're makin' a wreck, what a wreck, of Mack The Knife."
I know for a fact that Ella Fitzgerald lived in Yonkers. She went toschool with my grandmother who says she was a crack up in class alwayswith the witty remarks to make people laugh or sometimes they were notlaughing. My family is from Yonkers but I am not so I will have to askthe name of the school because I don't remember it offhand. All I knowis that all my life I knew that my Grandmother knew Ella Fitzgeraldfrom her class at school. My Grandmother was born two weeks beforeElla so they were almost exactly the same age.
Anyway I just wanted to confirm that for you because on your site itsays the fact of her living in yonkers from the time she was an infantwas not confirmed info and I just want you to know that it is indeeda fact.
A friend asked if I had visited the Official Ella Fitzgerald web page. I found you instead...
In 1978, (I think), I was introduced by Ella's wonderful piano player, Paul Smith, to the person with whom she was traveling. Paul is an old friend of my teacher, Louie Bellson, (Legendary Big Band drummer, married to Pearl Bailey). The man he introduced me to was Ella's road manager, the guy who took care of her on the road and handled everything so that she wouldn't have to. Paul introduced me as one of Louie Bellson's "kids", and the first thing the guy did was ask me if I would escort Ella from the symphony stage to her dressing room downstairs. I didn't have to ponder it for very long. I asked for what I thought was a very reasonable gratuity...wait a minute. Just kidding. You'd have to know how much I truly revere this incredible woman, my favorite musical artist of this American century. After her encore, with the audience on its feet, Ella approached us, the guy introduced me to her, she said, "Hello, Alan", took my left arm and walked with me ever so carefully as we descended the stairs to her dressing room. I sat, astonished, right beside her while she patiently and graciously signed autographs and greeted many of her fans who waited in line to meet her. I'm very lucky. It was a funny moment when my mother and Aunt Liz came in the dressing room and found me sitting next to Ella. I told Ella that this was my mom and my Aunt Liz, and she shook their hands and said, "Hi Mom. Hi Aunt Liz". The last thing I said to her was that she was the greatest, and she said,"Aww, no". Just like we've read, she seemed to be genuinely humble. A most uncommon spirit.
If you ever visit the Smithsonian Museum of American History, I know you will enjoy the video highlights of some great Ella performances featured in her exhibit. If you don't already have it, the "Frank Sinatra: A Man And His Music+Ella+Jobim" (Vol. 2 Warner Reprise Video), is some of the ultimate Ella on TV. Of the studio recordings, the '62 album, "30 by Ella", all medleys arranged by Benny Carter, is unsurpassed. If you're interested but can't find those, let me know and I'll get you a copy.
Really enjoyed your Ella page. Have no stories really since she's someoneI did not have the pleasure of meeting. But I've loved her ever since Iheard and purchased, as a kid, an album on which she sang memorablerenditions of "Cry Me A River" and "Night In Tunsia." So memorable I canstill hear them in my head althought I have neither on any of the records,CDs or CD sets I have of Ella's today. And I lost THAT original album backin the 70s when somebody stole my entire first record collection of over2,000 LPs and 4,000 singles! (That still hurts to this day!)
The Decca sets with Chick Webb, and Her Famous Orchestra, are a gas. Ifyou have it, check out "Rock It For Me" from 1937. Mentally change theinstrumentaion a bit, and that's 1950s rock'n'roll she's doing with ChickWebb!
Enjoyed reading you Ella entry. I wish she had had enough recognitionthat she truly deserved, even though SO many people loved her.
Ella was a family friend in the 30's, a good friend of my mom's inYonkers, N.Y. My grandma (13 yrs younger than my mom) didn't like thembeing friendly too much, as Ella was older, and my grandma was a widowwith 7 children, my mom the oldest. My grandpa was a pianist in NYclubs, if you could call them clubs, as for young minority performers inthose days...were disgusting. The conditions then caused him to becomesick and die of pneumonia at 27 yrs old... He accompanied her manytimes, however; shame that there are no recordings that exist.
I was told of the Apollo appearance of Ella's, where bookings were set,but her hair was...left natural. She came to my grandma,who proceeded tocurl her hair with little "chorus girl" curls, which she wore for performances years thereafter.
My mother and she kept in touch by letter for years after; they neverforgot their friendship.The last time my parents saw her perform at aclub in the late 50's, Ella apparently kept staring at my mom,recognized her, and after each set, kept motioning for her to comebackstage after, but mom never did.. too shy, I guess.
So many years later, about 1990, Ella made an appearance in Stamford,Ct, first in SO many years, with not much publicity. The NY one followingwas a sold out explosion, as was Stamford, but I took my mom and auntthere for a surprise, and my first encounter live with Ella. She lookedsmall, and elegant, in beaded beautiful gowns, after a huge standingovation, but when she opened her mouth and sang, I saw so many tearsabout the audience, especially from my mom and aunt. I'm sure you'veheard that one could close their eyes, and think you 30 years youngerand prior...(I am only 35 now) but I know the feeling.
We were fortunate in Stamford to meet with Ella afterwards, in herdressing room. My mom brought up names and experiences from the past,but she said she couldn't remember, yet, through those heavy glasses, sheheld out her hands to me, which I grabbed, and I remember her saying'Umm...young, soft hands. It makes me so happy that young peopleremember me and want to come to see me... I'm very touched". I neverforgot that, and I'll never forget her.
Just visited your page on Ella. Boy, did you hit the nail on the head! I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. I miss this woman I never knew.
A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend borrowed an Ella cd from the library -- the Harold Arlen Songbook, Vol 1. I couldn't believe my ears. Every song was such a treasure, every one better than the next. I am an amateur singer -- I've sung in church, in a vocal group, for weddings -- and her talent makes my jaw drop. Because I can sing a little bit, it makes me appreciate all the more what she was capable of doing.
I couldn't listen to that cd enough. Unfortunately, it had to go back to the library. One day, I'll have my own copy!
I used to think I lived a life with no regrets. That's no longer true. When I was a teenager in Pittsburgh, a boy took me to the Jazz Fest concert where Ella was performing. We left early, unimpressed by her. I think it was sheer ignorance. I would so love to go back in time and smack me across the face, and tell the younger me that I was in the presence of greatness, pay attention! Stupid, stupid youth. Well, at least we have a lot of her music, even if we no longer have her.
Thanks for a great page. It's nice to know that there are others out there who feel the same way!
Camp Hill PA
This may be the oldest Ella story you get.
In the late 50s and early 60s, I was a troubled teen searching for my own identity. I played Ella's 33-1/3 LPs over and over. They gave me such comfort. I sang along with her, learning al the words from A Train to I've Got the World on a String. My one wish in life was to meet her. Sadly, it never happened. I did see her live once in Houston, Tx. She was elegant, moving and sensational. She moved forward toward all of us in the front seats and whispered, "I'd appreciate it if all you smokers out there would put out your cigarettes, then I can sing so much sweeter to you." Everyone in sight put out their smokes and gave her their undivided attention. She smiled and said, thank you so much. Then she continued, singing her heart out. Whenever I hear an Ella tune, I melt. She was indeed the first lady of song, my inspiration, my soul survivor. I miss her, but still continue to get so much comfort from her music. From the time I was nine years old until the present age of 57, no one has affected me more. If you'd like a copy of a poem I wrote as a tribute to her, let me know. Thank you so much for allowing me to express my deepest feelings for this tremendous, talented lady.
I just wanted to remark on your wonderful website about Ella. I just love her! I sing her songs to my four month old until he becomes old enough to finally tell me to give it up and just let him hear the CD instead! Keep up the good work!
I just wanted to drop a line to let you know how much I enjoyed your website honoring the greatest singer of all time Miss Ella Fitzgerald. I too stumbled on to her voice by accident while I was listening to the radio in my car. I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. I made sure to wait to hear who the artist was who sang that last song. And if I remember correctly I believe the song was "My Funny Valentine". Anyway, I rushed to the store and also picked up the Cole Porter songbook volume one and volume two. I don't think I stopped playing those 2 records for about a month. I just couldn't get enough of that beautiful voice and I still can't get enough of that voice. A day doesn't go by where I have play something of hers whether I am in the car, at home or at work. Well, that's my story I hope you enjoyed it. As for the appearance of Ella on the Carol Burnett show, there is a small clip on the 25th Annivesary Reunion of the original cast of the show. She is singing a duet with Carol. I believe it was the Burt Bacharach song "I'll Never Fall In Love Again". If you can find a copy of that it may be worth checking out. And again, I must commend you on an excellent job putting this website together. I bet if she were still around to see this she would enjoy it just as much as I have. Take Care.
Your Fellow Ella Fan-
I'm a good bit older than you and discovered Ella in the mid 1950s -- ensconced in my Dad's record collection. The Songbook albums are my most coveted possessions, and several years ago I bought the full cd set -- a must for the Ella devotee. I have no one story that epidomizes my devotion and amazement of this unique musician, though I have many great memories of Ella in concert. One of the most vivid memories I have of Ella is a summer concert at the Carter Baron outdoor theatre in Washington, DC, maybe the early 1960s. It must have been a thousand degrees, and the heat and humidity of DC are legendary -- Noel Coward once called it more miserable than the tropics. Once she started singing the heat disappeared as an issue. The band and Ella were the universe. Her concerts, seeing her alive, are among the greatest experiences in my life.
I think that you've captured her, though I'm not a biographical expert about her life. But my affect, passion, and reaction are much like your own, though many decades seperate us. Thanks for putting so much of my feeling (and many others feelings, as well, I suspect) into words. Your lucky grandchildren -- to have Ella waiting for them! Thanks again. Allyn
your homepage is the coolest! I primarily listen to punk music such as AFI, NOFX, and, you know the drill. But youre absolutely right: Ella doesnt interfere with anything. All Right!
my name is gorkem, from turkey. i introduced ella by change like you and i loved her so much and i always listen her at home and office. when i was a teenager there was only one TV channel in turkey in 1980s. in those years on this channel we watched the old american movies from 1940s and 1950s. and so as you guess i listened old american classics and jazz songs watching these musical films... anyway. and the years past i started to listen metal, punk and new wave like you. on the other hand these old songs from 1930s and others had completely disappeared from my memory or from my mind. but now i am 26 years old and these kind of musics(metal punk...) dont give me much fun anymore. so i remembered or discovered again that american songs and started to search some of them typing 1930s or 1940s via net last week. by this way i have downloaded some songs that i didnt know which song or singer they were. some of them were ella songs. after listening she gave me much fun and happiness. i continue to load of her songs. i wondered how ella looks like so i have visit your web site and found useful info and photos. thank you desinging this ella web site. have a nice day
What a wonderful tribute page to the First Lady of Song...I have loved Lady Time as long as I can remember (I'm 40s now) and as you know, with Ella, love is eternal.
I was in New York the day she died in 1996. I was feeling sad, so I walked over to Times Square to visit Virgin Records - the largest record store on the planet - knowing that they have a whole showcase of Miss Fitzgerald's CDs.
I wasn't prepared for what they had done at Virgin...on every floor, in every section - from rock to country to classical to new wave - they were playing Ella! That's all - just Ella....and they had photos up, all of that beautiful woman doing what she did better than anyone else - sharing happiness with her fans.
God's blessings on you Ella - you worked hard for them.
And my thanks and congratulations to you; it's a pleasure to meet a fellow fan.
Kelly Lee Shields
I just visited you web site, and wanted to tell you that I am really very impressed. I have been a Ella Fitzgerald fan for about seven years, and the way that you discribed her and her music was great. I think that you did a wonderful job with it.
Hi, Loved your tribute. I was honoured to have known Ella in the late 40s when the Company I worked for had her appear in one of their Theatres with assigned as her PR man...she also did a few extra Gigs in a couple of London Jazz Clubs ( I think one Club was the Humphrey Littleton Club ). Her Bassist in the group with her was Ray Brown who she had married a few weeks prior. About a year or so later in conjunction with Norman Granz and his Jazz at the Philharmonic set up she came to London again and appeared at the London Palladium where my services as her PR man was called on once more. During both visits I used my Tape Recorder to record some rehearsals and after performances Jam Sessions with her many musician visitors, unfortunately, these and my many photographs and other personal items were destroyed in a very messy Divorce in 1970...but I still have very many pleasant memories of a gentle,somewhat shy Lady who was very easy to work with and who still sends a shiver down my spine every time I play one her songs - and I think I've got all of them.
Keep up the good work. Patrick Cordier
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