21 Dazzling Photos Of Jazz Legend Ella Fitzgerald Over The Years

Tuesday marks 100 years since Lady Ella was born.
Bathed in red light, Ella Fitzgerald performs with her eyes closed at Mr. Kelly’s nightclub in Chicago, 1958.
Bathed in red light, Ella Fitzgerald performs with her eyes closed at Mr. Kelly’s nightclub in Chicago, 1958.
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Ella Fitzgerald’s voice was so powerful and sultry that it makes sense why she is often referred to as the First Lady of Song.

But that’s not the only moniker she was given for her earth-shattering voice. In the nearly 80 years she lived, Lady Ella also came to be known as the Queen of Jazz ― a fitting name that reflected her inimitable influence on the genre.

Tuesday marks the 100-year anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birth on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia ― and it’s a perfect moment to reflect on how she overcame adversity and achieved unprecedented success in her career as a black woman at the height of Jim Crow. Fitzgerald first gained recognition in 1934 after singing during amateur night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and went on to win several other singing competitions. Lady Ella impressed crowds so much, she was quickly introduced to influential people in the music industry and attracted admirers everywhere. She soon landed a gig as a singer on tour with the Tiny Bradshaw band, performing in places like Harlem’s renowned Savoy Ballroom, before breaking into her own stardom with hit songs and albums.

Fitzgerald sold nearly 40 million albums, earned 13 Grammy Awards and worked alongside countless great jazz musicians before she died in 1996. In honor of her 100th birthday, let’s look back at moments that capture Lady Ella’s elegance and energy:

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Ella Fitzgerald, famous American jazz singer, during a performance. Undated photograph.
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Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb, drummer and bandleader for the Tiny Bradshaw band, with whom Fitzgerald sang for some years, 1938.
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Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald in 1954.
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Group portrait of producer Norman Granz and the musicians of the "Jazz at the Philharmonic," with Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Brown, Oscar Peterson and Lester Young, 1952.
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Ella Fitzgerald signing autographs at the concert series Jazz at the Philharmonic in Vienna in February 1954.
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Actress Marilyn Monroe attends a jazz session at the Tiffany Club in Hollywood on Nov. 19, 1954. Ella Fitzgerald chats with Marilyn, who was a fan of her voice and attended several of her shows.
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American singers Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sit next to each other, singing in front of microphones on a television special. Photo circa 1955.
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Norman Granz's "Jazz at The Philharmonic" artists arrived in Stockholm in 1952 and performed six weeks of concerts. This picture was taken at a rehearsal session. Oscar Peterson is at the piano. In rear, left to right, are Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Eldridge on trumpet and Max Roach, drummer.
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A portrait of Ella Fitzgerald circa 1959.
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An undated photo of Ella Fitzgerald.
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A portrait of Ella Fitzgerald circa 1945.
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An undated picture of music greats Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.
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A photo of Ella Fitzgerald performing onstage in 1970.
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Ella Fitzgerald and Sen. Robert Kennedy in an undated photo taken at an event hosted in benefit of the Community Service Programs at New York Shakespeare Festival Theater.
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A photo of Ella Fitzgerald taken in 1970.
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An undated photo of Ella Fitzgerald singing in Lucerna Hall.
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Ella Fitzgerald performs during an episode of the PBS television series "Soundstage" in Chicago on Nov. 20, 1979.
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The Manhattan Transfer (Tim Hauser, Cheryl Bentyne, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel) rehearse with jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald for their performance at the Grammy Awards in 1983 in Los Angeles.
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President Ronald Reagan presents one of the 1987 Medal of Arts awards to famed singer Ella Fitzgerald.
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Legendary performers Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald at the 100th anniversary of the Moulin Rouge in Paris in 1989.