Ella Fitzgerald: 9 Songs To Introduce You To The Queen Of Jazz

She could shatter glass with her voice, move audiences to tears and still gets honoured on the Google homepage on her birthday, Ella Fitzgerald is arguably the most legendary jazz singer that has ever graced our record players.
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She could shatter glass with her voice, move audiences to tears and still gets honoured on the Google homepage on her birthday, Ella Fitzgerald is arguably the most legendary jazz singer that has ever graced our record players.

Sheʼs inspired everyone from Amy Winehouse to Adele, regularly features in film soundtracks despite being dead for nearly twenty years, and has been called everything from ʻthe High Priestess of Song’ to ‘The Boss Lady’.

Bing Crosby said: ʻMan, woman or child, Ella is the greatest of them all.’ Johnny Mathis said: ‘She was the best. She was the best there ever was. Amongst all of us who sing, she was the best.’ Ed Thigpen said: ‘Ella's musicianship is just incredible. Playing with her is like playing with a full orchestra.’

And it’s all true. She really is that good. But it can be scary listening to Jazz if you’ve never really immersed yourself in it before. All that scatting, all those horns, all the mistakes that suddenly make a hit. You can’t pick Ella’s ten best songs, but let these start off your mission to listen to her thousands upon thousands of unique hits.

Misty

Soft, slow and heartbreaking: this oft-recreated hit showed Ella could sing the gentle tunes with as much emotion as the louder, lustier anthems.

Too Marvellous for Words

Part of The Great American Songbook, Ella sung the Johnny Mercer hits with panache and soul. While ʻSkylarkʼ and ʻLauraʼ may be more well-known hits, this big-band ballad is a personal favourite of mine.

The Boy From Ipanema

Arguably better than any version of ʻThe Girl From Ipanemaʼ, and shows just how well Ella could smash bossa nova.

Begin The Beguine

This big-band hit is from the most famous songbook, that of Cole Porter, accompanying such well-known tunes as ʻItʼs De-Lovelyʼ, ʻI Get A Kick Out Of Youʼ and ʻAnything Goesʼ in showing the true power of Ellaʼs mega-voice.

Mack The Knife

If you had no idea what I meant by ʻall the mistakes that suddenly make a hitʼ, listen to this. Listen to how she forgets the words, makes up new ones and drastically improves the song. Lucille Ball once said "Ella's amazing! My daughter says that every time she makes a mistake, it becomes a hit record."

Can’t Buy Me Love

Ella could take songs by her rivals for 60s music fans’ attention - The Beatles - and transform their rock songs into swinging jazz numbers.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

While plenty of musicians sung with Ella, played with Ella, jived with Ella, the most famous of all was the legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong, whose inimitable vocals can be heard on their many duets.

Them There Eyes

One of Ellaʼs most famous and successful collaborations was with Count Basie, legendary pianist, composer and bandleader - the 1963 album Ella and Basie!, with arrangements by Quincy Jones, sticks in the mind for giving us wonderful versions of songs like ʻʼDeed I Doʼ, ʻTea for Twoʼ and ʻOn the Sunny Side of the Streetʼ.

Cʼest Magnifique

You know someoneʼs a great singer if listening to their live songs sometimes beats listening to studio-recorded tracks. This beautiful rendition will give you goosebumps, and make you lament the fact that youʼll never get to hear The First Lady of Song live in concert.