The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, was born April 25, 1915. The jazz singer would have turned 100 years old this year had she not passed away June 15, 1996, and SiriusXM’s jazz channels are celebrating her enduring legacy.
Also known as the Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella, Fitzgerald was born in Virginia, grew up in Yonkers, NY, and rose to fame after she competed in one of the first Amateur Nights at the Apollo. She won the $25 grand prize and later entered other talent contests to show off her magnificent voice. She joined Chick Webb’s Orchestra as a vocalist and recorded several songs with the band. In 1938, she gained acclaim for her jazz-influenced version of the nursery rhyme A-Tisket, A-Tasket. When Webb died in 1939, the group performed under the name Ella and her Famous Orchestra until the group disbanded in 1942.
As her career progressed, Fitzgerald performed as a solo artist and collaborated with jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others. Popular jazz evolved away from the big band sound of swing music to more intimate arrangements which allowed The First Lady of Song to show off her vocal abilities. Her scat singing skills helped usher in the bebop era of jazz. Later, Fitzgerald returned to more classic arrangements in an attempt to find a wider audience. Her Cole Porter Songbook and Great American Songbook recordings had more universal appeal and sealed her legacy as one of the most talented American singers.
Real Jazz (Ch. 67)
One Hour Ella Fitzgerald Tribute: Special guest Dr. John Hasse, Curator of American Music at the Smithsonian and the creator of Jazz Appreciation Month, will lead a special one-hour tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
Airs: April 22
Ella at 100: A Day With Ella: Real Jazz celebrates the centennial of one of the greatest jazz singers ever, Ella Fitzgerald. Every hour Ella will be honoured with tracks from her extensive catalogue, as well as music from the many “First Lady of Song” tribute albums, including brand new music from “Ella: Accentuate The Positive” by violinist and MacArthur Genius Grant winner Regina Carter. Also, listen in for highlights from the New York City announcement of “Ella Fitzgerald Day” with remarks by Tony Bennett.
Airs: April 25 starting at 3 am ET through April 26 at 3 am ET
Watercolors (Ch. 66)
Crusin with Watercolors: A week of exclusive nightly concerts from the 2017 Smooth Jazz Cruise.
At 6 pm ET, hear daily exclusive performances from the Greatest Party at Sea! Monday through Friday features a double billing of incredible artists, including Richard Elliot, Peter White and more, with Saturday and Sunday set aside for featured performances from Brian Culbertson and Boney James. Celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month with LIVE contemporary jazz!
Airs daily April 17 – April 22 at 6 pm ET
Mon. Apr 17: Peter White & Eric Marienthal
Tue. Apr 18: Kirk Whalum & Nick Colionne
Wed. Apr 19: Rick Braun & Eric Darius
Thu. Apr 20: Keiko Matsui & Mindi Abair
Fri. Apr 21: Richard Elliot & Lalah Hathaway
Sat. Apr 22: Brian Culbertson
Sun. Apr 23: Boney James
Watercolors Greatest Show At Sea: All-Star Concert Recorded during The Greatest Party at Sea! Watercolors wraps up Jazz Appreciation Month with an all-star JAM featuring Boney James, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Peter White, Keiko Matsui and more. Recorded aboard the Smooth Jazz Cruise 2017.
Premieres April 28 at 7 pm ET; encore Sunday, April 30 at 4 pm.