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happy 100th birthday, ella fitzgerald // april 25, 1917 - june 15, 1996 // “just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong”

“The best way to start any musical evening is with [Ella]. It don’t get better than this.” Frank Sinatra

“Man, woman or child, Ella is the greatest of them all.” Bing Crosby

“Ella’s amazing! My daughter says that every time she makes a mistake, it becomes a hit record.” Lucille Ball

“It is so much fun to sing with Ella. It is so nice to sing with someone who does more than make a pretty noise.” Jo Stafford

“If you want to learn how to sing, listen to Ella Fitzgerald.” Vincent Minnelli

“The one radio voice that I listened to above others belonged to Ella Fitzgerald. There was a quality to her voice that fascinated me, and I’d sing along with her, trying to catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.” Doris Day

Today is the 100th birthday of jazz and pop singer Ella Fitzgerald, who’d started out winning Harlem talent shows as a teenager. She had her first hits with Chick Webb’s big band before going out on her own in the 1940s. The composer songbooks she recorded for Verve starting in the mid-50s are definitive recordings of vocal standards. Fitzgerald toured the world for decades, and died in 1996. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says Fitzgerald at her best is as good as it gets. Listen.

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Black Heritage Stamps with Ella Fitzgerald, Hattie McDaniel, Madam C.J. Walker, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Bessie Coleman, Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Marian Anderson, Shirley Chisholm.

Ella Fitzgerald would have celebrated her 100th birthday today, April 25. The “First Lady of Song” was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1917. The legendary #jazz singer’s career was launched after winning Amateur Night at the Apollo in Harlem.
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“Once up there, I felt the acceptance and love from my audience,” #EllaFitzgerald said. “I knew I wanted to sing before people the rest of my life.”
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She died in 1996 at the age of 79.

Credit: Julie Winegard for NBC News.