When one thinks of the founding leaders of Hip Hop normally people would think of Tupac, Biggie, and maybe sometimes if you ask the wrong person they will say, Eminem. However, I believe the founding leaders of hip-hop was Cab Calloway, Chuck Berry, and especially, Ella Fitzgerald. Ella Fitzgerald is known as the First Lady of song and won thirteen Grammy Awards. The album in particular that I want to focus on is Ella Fitzgerald’s Irving Berlin’s Songbook 1957. Out of all the artists, that correlates to rap, I could have chosen I chose Ella Fitzgerald because I notice that there were similarities in music patterns and a little bit of the style between her and modern rappers. For instance, Ella Fitzgerald was always doing collaborations, a cover song with her own style that was popular during her time period and singing songs that could relate to her life. Fitzgerald and others around her time period set a tone in hip-hop where you use your environment to create yourself and inspire your art. In the album, there are two songs that I randomly picked and I decide to listen to the original version and Fitzgerald version and each time Fitzgerald had a different interpretation of the song and therefore created a different sound or in other words, she popularized covers.
Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia. Fitzgerald parents separated shortly after she was born and Fitzgerald mother, Temperance Fitzgerald, moved her to Yonkers New York where they lived with Temperance Fitzgerald’ boyfriend, Joseph Da Silva. After the birth of her Fitzgerald’s half-sister Frances in 1923, it became harder for the family to financially take care of all of them so in order to help her family young Fitzgerald was a messenger or “running numbers” and “acting as a lookout for a brothel” . However, Fitzgerald had to move in with her Aunt after her mother died in 1932. As a result, she started to unravel. Fitzgerald was skipping school and was sent to a reform school and two years later she was trying to make a living on her own. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald always dreamed of being a performer and she entered a contest at the Apollo theater and won first place by sinning Hoagy Carmichael tune “Judy” as well as “The Object of My Affection” .
The performance at the Apollo was her first step to stardom because she later met Chick Webb, a drummer and bandleader, who made her a singer to his band. On this road to fame:
“Fitzgerald recorded “Love and Kisses” with Webb in 1935 and found herself playing regularly at one of Harlem’s hottest clubs, the Savoy. Fitzgerald also put out her first No. 1 hit, 1938’s ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket,’ which she co-wrote. Later that year Ella recorded her second hit, ‘I Found My Yellow Basket.'”
Although working with Webb Fitzgerald had a lot of side projects performing with other bands and created her performance group. Webb later died in 1939 and “Ella became the leader of the band, which was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Orchestra. (Some sources refer to the group as Ella Fitzgerald and Her Famous Band.)” .
In the early 1940s, Fitzgerald was briefly married to Ben Kornegay, who had a record falling under narcotics, but she later divorces him. Also, Fitzgerald went solo in her career and signed up with Decca Records and records a few hits with “the Ink Spots and Louis Jordan” . In 1942 Fitzgerald made her first film debut in the comedy western called ” Ride ‘Em Cowboy with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello” and a few years later she would hire a man named Norman Granz as her mangar and “Fitzgerald went on tour with Dizzy Gillespie and his band. She started changing her singing style, incorporating scat singing during her performances” .