Business Administration Education Guide

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

USPS Ella Fitzgerald Stamps

On Jan. 10, 2007, Ella Fitzgerald—“The First Lady of Song” and widely acknowledged as one of jazz’s most innovative vocalists and in my opinion the best jazz vocalists to ever sing —will be commemorated on a postage stamp as the 30th inductee in the U.S Postal Service’s Black Heritage series, a much over due recognition. The image used for the stamp is based on a photograph taken around 1956 by renowned illustrator Paul Davis.

For those in New York, the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony takes place in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln Center, located on Broadway and 60th Street, 5th floor.


Ella Fitzgeral got her start as an entertainer in 1934 when she entered and won an amateur competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Her talent was first recognized by Chick Webb, who hired her to sing in his orchestra; by 1938, they had a hit record with “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.” After Webb died in 1939, Fitzgerald took over the band and further sealed her reputation as one of the rising stars of jazz.

Mostly known for her extraordinary, three-octave vocal range and flexibility, Fitzgerald’s uncanny gift for pitch, rhythmic sense and impeccable diction allowed her to master the art of scat singing (the vocalization of unintelligible syllables).

Using her voice much like a saxophonist or trumpeter taking a solo, she was a natural fit for bebop and soon found herself playing with Dizzy Gillespie and eventually with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie and Joe Pass.

"She would be very honored, very pleased and a little surprised," said Ray Brown Jr., Fitzgerald's son. "She didn't go through life expecting all the accolades that she got. She was just happy to do her thing and be the best that she could be."

Fitzgerald was never one to stand on formality, Jacobs said. Once the two pulled on raincoats over their pajamas, piled into Fitzgerald's Rolls Royce and went to breakfast at a McDonalds.

Over the years, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy Awards and many other honors, including the National Medal of Arts, presented to her in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. She was one of five artists awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 1979. In 1989, the Society of Singers created an award for lifetime achievement, called it the "Ella," and made her its first recipient. In 2005, Jazz at Lincoln Center inducted Fitzgerald into its Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame.

My favorite Ella Fitzgerald song: Black Coffee

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