Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz

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9780684196992: Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz

Provides an insightful study of the dramatically successful musical career and turbulent private life of jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, in a portrait that reveals how the singer transcended racial and sexual prejudice and includes a complete discography.

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Review:

Ella Fitzgerald, who died in 1996, came from a poverty-stricken background. She was abandoned by her father, possibly abused by her stepfather and lived on the streets as a teenager. As a club singer she had to contend with racism, sexism and advances from predatory men. But in the 1950s, just when Billie Holiday, from a similar background, was falling toward drug addiction and a sordid death, Fitzgerald escaped the seeming inevitability of that fate. Her songbook albums relaunched her career in a new direction, and she became a beloved figure in American jazz, known for her musical precision and luminous clarity. This biography offers an assessment of the emotional strength apparent in both her life and music.

From the Back Cover:

The life of the very private and media-shy Ella Fitzgerald has long been shrouded in a mixture of half-truths and fiction. What emerges in Stuart Nicholson's groundbreaking biography is a remarkable story of a poor black girl's determination to realize the American Dream in the face of racial and sexual prejudice. She succeeded, and is now the definition of "jazz singer" to millions, one of the greatest of all jazz musicians. In this fullest account ever of her life, Nicholson draws on fresh research and interviews with Ella's friends and colleagues. Supplemented by Phil Schaap's authoritative discography, Ella Fitzgerald is a rich and revealing portrait of one of the most popular American singers in history.

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