||Stuart Nicholson's biography of Ella Fitzgerald is considered a classic in jazz literature. Drawing on original documents, interviews, and new information, Nicholson draws a complete picture of Fitzgerald's professional and personal life. Along with Billie Holiday, she virtually defined the female voice in jazz, and countless others followed in her wake and acknowledged her enormous influence. Beginning as a singer with the Chick Webb band, Fitzgerald scored her first hits with jazzy novelties, and proved her mettle when Webb suddenly died and she found herself the band's de facto leader. When the big band era ended after World War II, she remade herself as a popular balladeer, recording a famous series of "Songbooks" that helped establish the classic American song repertory. Through the ups-and-downs of her romantic life, Fitzgerald proved a strong survivor, weathering changes in musical taste and stules to become an American icon who transcended genre.Fitzgerald rarely gave interviews on personal|subjects, and discussed her life in only the most general terms. Even her birth date was widely misreported until Nicholson unearthed her original birth certificate. Through painstaking research and personal interviews, Stuart Nicholson offers the first full picture of this singer's life and times.
||Beginning in the late 1930s, Ella Fitzgerald's long career spanned much of 20th-century jazz history, starting with her recording debut with Chick Webb's orchestra and reaching its apex with a celebrated series of albums she made with most of the leading figures in jazz, from Duke Ellington to Louis Armstrong. After a poverty-stricken childhood in New York, Fitzgerald was discovered singing at the Apollo Theater in Harlem by Benny Carter, and started with Webb's band soon after (although her disheveled appearance--she was homeless at the time--nearly lost her the gig). Her subsequent rise to national prominence was not without misfortune: she experienced both sexual and racial prejudice, her marriage to bass player Ray Brown collapsed due to the pressure of both their careers, and she also suffered from chronic depression. ELLA FITZGERALD, Stuart Nicholson's insightful study of the career of the "First Lady of Jazz," ties the threads of her complex personal and public lives together in a skillful blend of revealing intimate details and authoritative career analysis, from the loneliness that accompanied her fame to her fortuitous association with the impresario Norman Granz, who successfully guided her career for half a century.