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Ella Fitzgerald’s life and career timeline

1917

April 25th, in Newport News, Virginia, Ella Jane Fitzgerald is born to Temperance and William Fitzgerald.

1917
1920

William abandons the family.

1920
1932

Mother dies suddenly of a heart attack. Orphaned at age 15, she is placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, NY.

1932
1934

Makes stage debut while living on the streets of Harlem in an amateur contest sponsored by the Apollo Theatre in New York City.

1934
1935

Makes her first recording with Chick Webb, "Love and Kisses," for the Decca Records label.

1935
1938

Song "A-Tisket A-Tasket," a swinging version of the nursery rhyme, gains national recognition and becomes her first hit.

1938
1939

After the death of Chick Webb, takes over the direction of his band, which she leads for three years.

1939
1941

Marries con man Ben Kornegay but has the marriage quickly annulled.

1941
1942

Embarks on a solo career, issuing commercial and jazz recordings.

1942
1943

Signs with Decca, producers of her million selling album "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall"

1943
1948

Marries Ray Brown, the bassist from the Dizzy Gillespi's band.

1948
1948

Has first over-seas concert at the London Palladium.

1948
1949

Performs at the Jazz at the Philharmonic formed by Norman Granz, a philosophy graduate and jazz enthusiast.

1949
1953

Chooses Norman Granz as her personal manager. Divorses Ray Brown.

1953
1955

Signs with Granz's label, Verve.

1955
1956

She and Granz record their first collaboration "The Cole Porter Songbook." It is a turning point in her career.

1956
1958

Wins the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Individual Performance for "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book."

1958
1960

Wins Grammy for Best Vocal Performance Single Record or Track, Female for "Mack the Knife," recorded on the Verve record label.

1960
1976

Wins Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for "Fitzgerald and Pass...Again."

1976
1979

Receives the Kennedy Center Award for lifetime achievement and is enshrined in the Hall of Fame of the jazz magazine "Down Beat."

1979
1980

Wins Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female for "A Perfect Match/Ella and Basie."

1980
1986

Awarded an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Yale University. Later than year, she is admitted to intensive care for heart trouble.

1986
1987

Awarded the U.S. National Medal.

1987
1988

Holds her final recording session.

1988
1992

Awarded the National Medal of Freedom.

1992
1996

June 15, 1996 at age 78, Ella Fitzgerald dies of complications from diabetes.

1996
1997

The Ella Fitzgerald Collection is officially donated to the Library of Congress after being on deposit since 1996.

1997
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