The world of music and the rest of the world as well will miss the familiar voice of Ella Fitzgerald, stilled by death after 62 years of providing enjoyment to audiences worldwide.
Fitzgerald, 78, who began performing at the age of 16, recorded 250 albums and won 13 Grammy Awards. Renowned as the "first lady of song," she had a unique vocal range that moved from the deep tones of the blues to a soprano that could literally shatter crystal.Probably best known in the jazz world, Fitzgerald was named by Downbeat magazine as the best female jazz singer for 18 consecutive years. Her huge talent was made even more unusual because it was accompanied by a warm, unassuming personality and a strength of character that matched her powerful voice.
Fitzgerald was never tainted by the personal scandal and moral deficiency that is found far too often among entertainers.
She gained fame during a time when racial discrimination reached into much of American society including celebrity ranks. Fitzgerald fought prejudice with the same dignity that brought her professional success. Among other battles, she won a lawsuit against an airline that had bumped her and two assistants from a flight to make room for three white passengers.
Fitzgerald was a great lady who dealt with severe medical problems quietly. A diabetic, she suffered complications of the disease including amputation of both legs below the knees.
She was loved by fellow performers and by millions of fans who came to feel they knew her through her wonderful music. She will be remembered for the enthusiasm which she brought to her career, her music and to life.