Ella Fitzgerald was considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th Century. Her vocal range spanned 3 octaves, and over a recording career that lasted more than 50 years, she won thirteen Grammy Awards.
Soon after Ella's birth, her parents separated, and Ella and her mother moved from Virginia to New York where they lived with her mother's boyfriend, Joseph Da Silva.
After Ella's mother died in 1932, Ella stayed with Da Silva for a short time before moving in with her mother's sister.
Two months after her singing debut, Ella won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band. The bandleader, Chick Webb, gave Ella the opportunity to test with the band at another event. Ella was a great success, and was then hired to travel with the band, with Ella eventually becoming a regular singer for the band. After Chick Webb's death in 1939, the band was renamed "Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra".
In 1941 Ella began her solo career. Ella started working regularly with jazz impressario Norman Granz, with Granz eventually becoming her manager.
With the demise of Swing and Big Bands, and the advent of be-bop, Ella's vocal style went through a major change as she started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire.
By 1955, Ella Fitzgerald had left the Decca label for the Norman Granz created jazz record company, Verve. The eight `Songbooks` that Fitzgerald recorded for Verve between 1956 to 1964 represent her most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, and what is considered her most significant offering to American culture.
From 1972 onwards, Ella recorded at least 20 albums for Granz's new record label, Pablo Records.
Plagued by health problems, Ella Fitzgerald made her last recording in 1989, and her last public performances in 1991.