Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz
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 - the first in more than a decade - is the remarkable and triumphant story of a poor black girl's determination to realize the American Dream in the face of constant racial and sexual prejudice. Now nearly eighty years old, Ella Fitzgerald is the definition of jazz singer to millions around the world, and acclaimed as one of the greatest of all jazz musicians. This is the fullest-ever account of Ella's life, and Stuart Nicholson draws almost exclusively on fresh research and on interviews with many of Ella's friends and colleagues who have not cooperated with other writers, including an interview with Norman Granz, Ella's longtime manager and the producer behind her legendary Songbook series. Within two years of her professional debut as a gauche sixteen-year-old, Ella had achieved stardom with a million-selling record. By the 1950s, she was feted by the rich and famous throughout the world and collaborating with all the greatest artists in jazz and popular music, from Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Yet, as Stuart Nicholson shows, while hailed abroad as a cultural ambassador for her country, she had to endure vicious racism at home, including a sensational arrest scandal on trumped-up charges in the Deep South. Nicholson examines the key influence upon Ella of bandleader Chick Webb, and provides the first in-depth analysis of Webb's career. He also considers Ella's complex relationship with Norman Granz, and traces her unhappy love life, involving two failed marriagesand a series of casual affairs. But above all Nicholson celebrates Ella's music, live and on record, highlighting her finest work and considering her alongside her great rival and fellow icon, Billie Holiday. Supplemented by an authoritative discography by noted jazz historian P
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Not so much a personal biography, more so a book of facts about tours, dates, band members with some interesting musical insight from people that have played with her throughout her career. Very concise but only delves into personal aspects here and there. Only get a small amount of what Ella was like as an individual. Still, a musical journey from the early days up until her death...a good read!
Ella Fitzgerald: a biography of the first lady of jazzUser Review - Book Verdict
Ella Fitzgerald's hit song "A-Tisket, A-Tasket'' grabbed national attention in 1938, and over the next three decades she won much popular and critical acclaim. Born in poverty, she rose to perform at Carnegie Hall, becoming wealthy and well liked. Nicholson discusses Fitzgerald's musical influences, places her in the context of swing and bebop, and discusses her career highlights, including the Songbook albums. But he also bemoans the many silly songs she recorded to achieve wide sales and discusses her lack of depth compared with Billie Holiday. A 61-page discography by jazz historian Phil Schaap is said to include previously unknown recordings. Although this biography joins at least four others (some in German), it seems well researched and is recommended for general collections.-Paul Baker, Wisconson Ctr. for Education Research, Madison