Monday, April 30, 2007

Star Studded Tribute To First Lady of Song...

Stars Salute Ella Fitzgerald At Concert

April 30, 2007
The Associated Press

"You can only be an innovator once ... and I hate that," joked Patti Austin backstage at a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Austin joined host Natalie Cole, Wynonna Judd, Nancy Wilson and other singers and musicians covering tunes by Fitzgerald at the "We Love Ella: A Tribute to the First Lady of Song" on Sunday night.

The tribute, held at the University of Southern California's Galen Center, marked what would have been Fitzgerald's 90th birthday April 25. The singer died in 1996.

Backed by USC's Thornton Symphony and Jazz Orchestra, instrumentalists George Duke, James Moody and Jon Faddis covered Fitzgerald's classic 1950s recording "Lady Be Good." Newcomer Lizz Wright cooed "Lullaby of Birdland."

Saxman Dave Koz riffed with "American Idol" Ruben Studdard on "Do Nothing `Til You Hear From Me," and a capella act Take 6 bopped to an original tune inspired by Fitzgerald's stylings.

"When it comes to vocal scatting, we feel like we're her great-godsons," said Take 6 member Alvin Chea.

Stevie Wonder brought the audience to their feet with "Too Close for Comfort."

"Ella didn't care about the words because she thought like a horn," noted Quincy Jones, a longtime collaborator. "One of her biggest records, `Mack the Knife,' in Berlin, she forgot all the words."

Fitzgerald's own peerless sounds were showcased in a montage of never-before-released tunes. The songs will be featured on "Love Letters From Ella," a collection of rare recordings to be issued July 31 by Starbucks Entertainment and Concord Records.

"We Love Ella," produced by Phil Ramone and Gregg Field for Thirteen/WNET New York, airs June 6 on PBS. The companion tribute album will be released June 5 on Verve Records.


On the Net:

University of Southern California:

Thirteen/WNET New York:


Ella Fitzgerald:

New Stamp Honors Ella Fitzgerald

January 10, 2007 - 2:25am
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The lady is a stamp! The U.S. Postal Service honors the First Lady of Song _ Ella Fitzgerald _ with her own postage stamp Wednesday.

The 39-cent stamp is being released at ceremonies at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and will be on sale across the country.

People who don't know about her will see the stamp and think: "What makes this person special? And perhaps find out about the person and about the music," said her son, Ray Brown Jr.

Fitzgerald wasn't self-important, perhaps reflecting the values she sang about in the Rodgers and Hart song "The Lady is a Tramp":

"I don't like crap games, with barons and earls. Won't go to Harlem, in ermine and pearls. Won't dish the dirt, with the rest of the girls. That's why the lady is a tramp."

Phoebe Jacobs, executive vice president of The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and a longtime friend of Fitzgerald, described the singer as "a very private lady, very humble."

After Fitzgerald confided in 1961 that she had never had a birthday party, Jacobs gathered a star-studded collection of people for the special event. The party was a secret, so Fitzgerald was told to dress up because there was a television interview.

"When the lights came on she took her pocket book and hit me on the shoulder," Jacobs recalled. "She was like a little kid, she was so happy."

Fitzgerald was a baseball fan and the guests included her favorite player, Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle. They embraced and traded autographs.

Fitzgerald's appearance on a stamp comes less than a year after Mantle was featured among baseball sluggers.

Born in Newport News, Va., in 1917, Ella Jane Fitzgerald moved with her mother to Yonkers, N.Y., as a youngster and began to sing and dance from an early age. She began winning talent competitions in the early 1930s and was hired to sing with Chick Webb's band.

She later became famous as a scat singer, vocalizing nonsense syllables, and performed with most of the great musicians of the time. She recorded the song books of such composers as Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and Johnny Mercer.

Over the years, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy Awards and many other honors, including the National Medal of Arts, presented to her in 1987 by President Reagan.


On the Net:

U.S. Postal Service:

No comments: