- Category : Entertain-Music-Vocalist-Pop,-Rock,-etc.
- Type : GP
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Unexpected 1
American singer, a vocalist with an incredible velvety voice, producing equally beautiful sounds regardless of whether she was singing scat, improvising, singing up-tempo or crooning love songs. She was dubbed "The First Lady of Song."
Born to a wagon driver and a laundress, her parents were not married at birth. By the time she was four years old, her parents had split and her mother had moved in with Joseph DaSilva, a first-generation immigrant from Portugal. They moved to Yonkers, NY in hopes of finding employment. Her sister Frances DaSilva was born in 1923, and the two remained close until Frances' death in 1960.
A shy, bright, ambitious child, Ella wanted to be somebody and loved dancing and singing as a child. She sang at her church and as a pre-teen was taken by the music and sound of Louis Armstrong. In 1932, her mother Tempie died of injuries suffered in an auto accident. Her stepfather was strict and often punitive toward her, wanting to keep her in the house while the young woman, now age 15 or 16, wanted to dance at clubs in Harlem. There was a suspicion of child abuse, and her aunt Virginia took her into her home in Harlem. The troubled young woman dropped out of school and hung around the streets of New York. In 1934 she sang at the Apollo Club's Amateur Night , making her debut in November 21, 1934, accompanied by the Bennie Carter orchestra. Carter was smitten by her voice and she won the night's award. Carter introduced her around to his colleagues in the business and a star was born. By mid 1936 she had her first recording, "Love and Kisses" on the Decca record label. Her first album, released in 1938, hit the top of the charts and sold over a million copies. She since won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.
Her love life was not so happy. Her 1941 marriage to Benny Kornegay, a local dockworker was quickly annulled after Ella learned he had a criminal past. In 1946 she married bassist Ray Brown; they adopted a son, Ray, Jr. The couple divorced in 1952. A news report claimed she had remarried in 1957, this time to a younger Norwegian fellow who was later convicted of stealing from his previous lover.
In September of 1986, Ella underwent quintuple coronary bypass surgery and was diagnosed with diabetes. Overweight and ill, she nevertheless returned to traveling and singing on stage. In 1991, she delivered her final concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. In 1993, with increasingly worse health, including failing eyesight, circulatory problems, and diabetes, both legs were amputated below the knees. She died on June 15, 1996 in her Beverly Hills, CA home. She was 79.