Ella Fitzgerald: From runaway pauper to Queen of Jazz
Ella Fitzgerald would have turned 96 today, Google has honored her with her own doodle
With 13 Grammy awards, more than 200 albums, and a career that lasted longer than 40 years, Ms. Fitzgerald is a musical legend. Noted for her perfect pitch, scatting abilities, and vocal range, the “Queen of Jazz” continues to inspire musicians to this very day. However, Fitzgerald’s life was not easy at first.
Born in Newport News, Va., Fitzgerald soon moved with her mother and stepfather to Yonkers, N.Y. When her mother died in 1932, then 15-year-old Fitzgerald ran away from her abusive stepfather and went to live with her aunt. The young Fitzgerald worked odd jobs, even as a lookout for a brothel and with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. When police caught her, the authorities attempted to place her in the Colored Orphan Asylum in the Bronx. However, due to overcrowding, Fitzgerald was sent to the New York Training School for Girls. Fitzgerald ran away from the state reformatory and was subsequently homeless for a while.