Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most prominent singers of the 20th century, was born on this day in Newport News, Virginia.
In 1934, a 16-year-old Fitzgerald got her big break following a show-stopping performance at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. More success at the Apollo and other venues followed, and Fitzgerald was invited to join Chick Webb’s jazz band, where she scored her first hit, "A-Tisket A-Tasket," in 1938.
In the 1940s, Fitzgerald embarked on a successful solo career and became known for her signature “scatting” technique and also performed with jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and Frank Sinatra. Fitzgerald continued to woo audiences with her silky vocals through the 1980s, but retired in 1990 due to failing health. She recorded more than 2,000 songs and sold more than 40 million records. She passed away on June 15, 1996, at the age of 78.
Check out one of her iconic performances below:
(Photo by Anthony Bruno/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)