On Ella Fitzgerald's 100 birth anniversary, the top five songs from the Queen of Jazz

FP Staff

April 27, 2017 15:30:33 IST

Ella Fitzgerald defies the often-held misconceptions that singers aren't as virtuosic as their instrumentalist counterparts.

ella fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald. Image via Twitter.

Known especially for her immaculate intonation, range and formidable scat solos, Fitzgerald got her big break at age 17 after winning an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

From there on, her careered bloomed and by the late fifties and sixties she was the first major female black singer, who along with recording solo works, collaborated with other legends of the time like Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Carlos Jobim, Joe Pass, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

Fitzgerald passed away of diabetes in 1996, but her amazing career spanned most of her 79 years. Since she is widely revered as one of the finest singers in pop and jazz, here are our top 5 song picks to celebrate her centennial birth anniversary on 25 April 2017:

Airmail Special

This song showcases her scat abilities at their best, as this song, recorded live at in 1957 at Newport Jazz Fest, is chocked full of some cleverly inserted excerpts from other songs like 'Davy Crocket,' 'Jingle Bells,' 'The Christmas Song,' and 'Amore.'

Her ability to hop from different melodies and instrumental imitations with such precise timing, intonation and delivery is staggering. 'Airmail Special' crystallises why Fitzgerald wears the crown as The Queen of Jazz.

The Lady Is A Tramp

Can you make a song by Frank Sinatra sound better? Ella Fitzgerald can. Orginally recorded by Frank Sinatra,

Here's the duet version of Sinatra's original which he had recorded for the 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical Babes in Arms.


This tune is from her collaborative 1958 album with Louis Armstrong, Porgy and Bess, based on the George and Ira Gershwin opera of the same name. The album itself won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2002 and it remains one of the most covered songs in the history of music with more than 33,000 to its name.


Fitzgerald takes this melodramatic, rangy love song and makes it sound downright simple to sing. Her voice was made for this cascading melody, and her creative reworking of the melody lines accentuate the song's lush harmonies. Of all the renditions of this classic song by Johnny Mathis, which includes the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Fitzgerald's is the best so far.

Can't Buy Me Love

Ella's version of The Beatles cult classic is definately worth a listen. Only the Queen of Jazz has the power to transform a rock song into a swinging jazz number and make it sound like it was hers all along.

Updated Date: Apr 27, 2017 15:30 PM