Manny P. here…
“`The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has put on display a rarely-seen photograph of iconic jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald; fondly nicknamed First Lady of Song. This portrait is currently on view, ahead of the 100th anniversary of her birth. Ella died in 1996, and would have marked her 100th birthday on April 25th.
“`Represenatives of the gallery chose the photograph of Fitzgerald in performance flanked by Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, and Milt Jackson (right). It was taken in 1947 by William Gottlieb, who learned to shoot a camera to take pictures to accompany his weekly music column for the Washington Post. Ella was actually in the audience to hear her boyfriend, Ray Brown, perform with his group. But, as expected, everybody wanted to hear Ella croon. Once she held the mic, Gottlieb got into position to take his pic. His photos of musicians of the 1930s and 1940s are generally considered vibrant visual records of jazz’s Golden Age.
“`Fitzgerald topped DownBeat Magazine’s annual readers’ poll as the Best Female Vocalist for 17 consecutive years (1953–1970). She was a teen when she won an amateur contest at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. This led to a chance to sing with Chick Webb’s orchestra in 1935. Fitzgerald soon secured her standing as the leading swing-era performer, and scored a hit with A-Tisket, A-Tasket in 1938. After Webb’s passing in 1939, she led his orchestra for three years, before moving to a successful solo career. With a voice spanning three octaves, and a great knack for improvisational scat singing, she developed a wide-ranging repertoire encompassing multi genres of music. Ella’s long and fruitful association with jazz impresario Norman Granz resulted in a legendary series of songbook recordings that marked Fitzgerald: One of the great interpreters of American popular music.
“`The striking photo was given to the museum as a gift from Lisa Ruthel and Anup Mahurkar; and Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation has helped make it possible for this portrait to be on view in honor of Ella at 100: The Centennial Celebration. It’s the first time the photograph has been displayed at the museum.
“`It will be on view through May 14th in the Celebrate exhibit of the first-floor north gallery.
Until next time> “never forget”