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"We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song"

Great Performances

by David Gutowski

When I was a child, one of my favorite holiday albums was Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. I would put the disc on my record player, look at the psychedelic album cover, and lose myself in the powerful voice of Ella Fitzgerald. As I grew up, Ella (like a true superstar, she became known by her first name alone) was seemingly always around. My parents played her jazz and standards music regularly, and she often appeared on the variety shows popular in my youth, singing her inimitable renditions of the hit songs of the day.

Ella Fitzgerald would have turned 90 this year, and Great Performances celebrates with a concert of her music. Co-hosted reverently by her friend Quincy Jones and Natalie Cole, We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song is truly a tribute Ella would have appreciated. Ella was a talented singer regardless of genre. Her albums of jazz, pop standards, and ballads are all classics. Her diversity is celebrated through the range of performers who sing at this tribute. Country music's Wynonna Judd, R&B's Ruben Studdard, an jazz man James Moody are just three examples of the performers paying tribute to Ella. Newcomers like Ledisi shared the same stage as music legends Stevie Wonder and Nancy Wilson, and all performers brought their styles to Ella's signature tunes. The range of performers mirrors Fitzgerald's fans, where age or genre barriers are broken when her music is played.

Watching this tribute, I realized that though Ella Fitzgerald rarely was the first to sing many of these songs, once her voiced graced the lyrics they became her own. Her 13 Grammys and over 40 million records sold worldwide speak for themselves. Undoubtedly, she deserves the title of "First Lady of Song," not only for the United States, but the world.

Comments

I have been listening to Ella since I was a kid, and I'm 65 now. Her voice was beautiful, her personality likewise, and her talent wonderful. It is great to listen to the music of someone who is having so much fun singing! Certain songs will always, for me, anyway, be heard in her voice. I disagree about her depth of emotion, she could make a song say anything she wanted it to say. And she didn't need words to do it! Her scatting with Louis Armstrong's trumpet was a quintessential example of two artists enjoying their music, themselves, and each other. You can hear in the music the sparkle in their eyes, and the communication between them. Fantastic.

While viewing the show "We love Ella!", I felt the love for Ella permeate through my television! Wish I was there! While watching the World premiere performance of her song "Cry me a river", I looked up the lyrics to this song. Quincy Jones prefaced the performance with the history of how this song was dropped from the movie it was to appear in at the time of heightened ill-relations of whites towards blacks. While reading the lyrics tonight, I heard her singing those very words to the persons that inflicted pain on her and on people of color. "I cried a river over you-you nearly drove me out of my mind while you never shed a tear, remember?-Now you say you love me-well prove you do-and cry me a river" This may have been a song about a man but the lyrics come to this age in time when love and compassion must be shown as a form of repair among each other. Music moves the soul- Thank you Ella- Suzan

When I was a very young child, my mother would turn the radio up and we would all dance around the dining room listening to Ella. When I listened to her songs I wanted to sing. I was a very shy child but inside I sang the songs that I heard Ella sing. I now know it was her passion for life that came through her singing and made rainbows in my life. Viloria

I grew up listening to MIss Ella,the Duke,Count Basie and the sassy Miss Nancy just to name a few.Lost my mother at an early age,last night listening to Natalie Cole sing Midnight Sun brought tears to my eyes with the memories of my parent's listening to all this wonderful music.The show was just wonderful and Patti Austin and Natalie Cole's ending was fantastic.

I would love to purchase a dvd of this show.

The Show was awesome I did not catch the name of the young black singer with the blue dress, she was fantastic, look very humble with a wonderful and rare style, wow!!! how many thing can a singer like her say without said it.

I will appreciate if you send me the name of this superb singer.

Thanks.

This program was tremendously entertaining. I loved every moment of it. The performances by each artist were spectacular. I NEED a copy of this DVD so that I can enjoy and be energized by it again and again!

WILL THE TRIBUTE TO ELLA REPLAY ON KPBS?

How can I get a CD of this show?

Growing in a musical family, almost each and every song brought tears to my eyes realizing what a talent Ella was. And what a cast of musicians - WOW! I too would love a DVD of this concert. Is it available anywhere?

In response to Jose Reyes- the singer in the blue dress is Ledisi She is awesome! I Hope this helps! ... a year later!

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