Today’s Google Doodle recognizes the over-the-top talent and incredible legacy of Queen of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald.
Born on this date in 1917, Fitzgerald grew up listening to jazz, and in her late teens began performing at “open mic”-style nights at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Her raw vocal talent won her cash prizes, but also eventually won her an opportunity to perform with a band at the Harlem Opera House. This opportunity introduced her to bandleaders and other performers, which opened up a new world for Fitzgerald. Chick Webb signed her to his band, and she worked with them in several years; after Webb’s death, the band was renamed “Ella and her Famous Orchestra.” As she went on to pursue a solo career, and as she experimented successfully with new vocal techniques in the scat and bebop styles, Ella became a critical — and wildly famous — figure in jazz vocals. And, as her legacy makes very clear, Fitzgerald is also one of the most beloved figures in American pop culture of the 20th century.
I featured Ella last April in the Doodle-Worthy Women series, in my very first post as part of that project. That post noted some of the many awards in the arts that have been dedicated to Fitzgerald, and included a recording of Fitzgerald performing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” with Louis Armstrong. As far as I know, this is the first of Speaking Up’s Doodle-Worthy Women whom Google has gone on to include in their Doodles!