• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.

The Rediscovery of Ella Fitzgerald

Jazz clarinetist Tony Scott once said “When Ella [Fitzgerald] sings ‘My man he’s left me,’ you think the guy went down the street for a loaf of bread. But when Lady (Billie Holliday) sings, you can see that guy going down the street. He’s got his bags packed and he ain’t never coming back.”

Some music fans might see that comment as a putdown of Ms. Fitzgerald, dubbed by her fans and comrades in song as “The First Lady of Song,” since Ella never tranmitted the sorrowful blues of Holliday. But Ella’s men were forever suitors who always came back for more.

Some of those suitors, including legend Quincy Jones, Ruben Studdard, Stevie Wonder join with women singers in a gala celebration of what would be Ella’s 90th birthday this week in the television special, We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song, a special from Thirteen/WNET premiering on Wednesday, June 6 nationally with repeat performances throughout the week. Repeat performances in the New York City area include screenings on Thursday, June 7 through Sunday, June 10 with times ranging from 10 am to 9 pm. Viewers in other national markets should check their local PBS schedule for times.

It is hard to estimate the worth of a singer who had the classic torch song, “Cry Me a River,” actually written for her and her only. Or to weigh the importance of a lady whose recordings of the composers Rogers and Hart, Ira and George Gershwin, Cole Porter were produced in songbook series, which still set the silver for many current musicians’ feasts.

Some of the current musicians who honor Ella’s swing on the program include chanteuse, Nancy Wilson who closes the show with a heart throbbing, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” after describing how she listened to Ella as a child dreaming of a career; singer Natalie Cole who co-hosts the show with Quincy Jones tells of meeting Ella as a child with her father Nat King Cole and calling her “Aunt Ella.”

But Ella’s influence must perhaps must be understood in the context of her early years when she got her start singing in the band of a four-foot tall dwarfed drummer, Chick Webb, who had the heart and strength of a giant. Webb actually adopted Ella as a teenager since she needed an adult guardian to sign contracts as a minor. Ella repaid Webb’s faith in her by fronting his band in many legendary big band competitions with the like of the Benny Goodman’s orchestra.

While the flower best associated with Billie Holliday was the gardenia she pinned in her hair to initially cover a burned spot, perhaps the petals that could be associated with Ella might be a crystal rose, flung through the heavens, joining lovers everywhere and somewhere, waiting for the right person and the right time to climb stairways to heaven. Singer Patti Austin evokes this destiny when she sings Ella’s classic “Heaven is Where You Are.”

But we must not forget the famous scat interpretations of Fitzgerald. Stevie Wonder and the a capella group Take Six give memorable renditions of the do wop vocals that Ella introduced so well because she said “I just wanted to be able to talk to musicians in the language they would understand.”
Music critic John Rockwell spoke of the woman who received the National Medal of Arts from President Regan in 1987 and sold over 40 million albums that “she brings together the major influences that have shaped American popular music in this century. Her style is not just a combination of pop and jazz, but of white and black, girl and woman, voice and instrument.”

When the suitors left Ella when she passed away in 1996, they had stardust on their sleeves. But heaven has sent her many children to help us see the midnight sun she always knew was burning. See her magic in new generations this week and dance. That’s what Ella would have wanted.

Frederick B. Hudson is a columnist for A Good Black Man. He can be reached at: FHdsn@aol.com



More articles by:
June 04, 2020
Helen Yaffe
Leading by Example: Cuba in the Covid-19 Pandemic
John Davis
Our History is Our Future
Fred Baumgarten
Chamberlain v. White Plains: A Crack in the Wall for Police Killings?
Steven Newcomb
Domination and the Murder of George Floyd
Jen Moore
Defending Land and Water From Mining Profiteers in the Time of Covid-19
Jim Hightower
I Remember the Lynchings of the 60s. They’re Still Happening
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Abandons Open Skies for New Age Space Weapons
M. K. Bhadrakumar
NATO Returns to Libya to Challenge Russia
Dave Lindorff
Redistribution by Another Name
Thom Hartmann
How Immunity for Cops and Facebook Kills Americans
George Wuerthner
The Problem With Chainsaw Medicine: the Forest Service’s Move to Cut Oregon’s Big Trees
Victor Grossman
An Idea on Providing Coordination and Leadership
Rebecca Gordon
How the Credibility Gap Became a Chasm in the Age of Trump
Tom Clifford
With USA in Retreat, China Reassesses Its Options
Rafael Bernabe – Manuel Rodríguez Banchs
A Proposal from Afar: Trump Must Resign!
Binoy Kampmark
To the Commercial Heavens We Go! SpaceX, NASA and Space Privatisation
Brett Heinz
The UN’s Anti-Poverty Proposal for Latin America: a “Basic Emergency Income”
Peter Harrison
Four Aphorisms
June 03, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Revolution, Not Riots: Prospects for Radical Transformation in the Covid-19 Era
Jennifer Loewenstein
From Mississippi to Minneapolis: Leaving the ‘Abyss of Despair’
Kenneth Surin
The UK Compared With Other Countries on the Pandemic
Paul Street
“Total Domination”: Popular Rebellion in the Shadow of Trumpism-Fascism
Kenn Orphan
The Sadism of American Power
John Pilger
The Coup Against ‘The Most Loyal Ally’
Eric Murphy
The Police Are The Out-Of-Towners Provoking Violence
Melvin Goodman
How the Washington Post Accommodates Disinformation
Rev. William Alberts
It’s the Worshippers Who Are “Essential”
Georgina Downs
No, the Public Fury Will Not “Move On” Prime Minister!
George V. Wright
It is Happening Here
M. G. Piety
Tales from the Dark Side of Customer Service, or “Christians” Giving Christians a Bad Name
Chandra Muzaffar
A Superpower in Chaos
Thomas Knapp
Time to Stop Messing Around and Strike at the Root of Police Violence
Thomas M. Hanna
The Oligopoly That Controls Our Digital Infrastructure Has Deepened Economic and Racial Divides
Andrew Stewart
The Ethics of Police Murder Video Exhibition: Democratizing The News Feed, Re-Traumatizing The Survivors, Or Both?
Binoy Kampmark
Death, Protest and George Floyd
David Rovics
Who’s Trashing Downtown Every Night and Why?
Harvey Wasserman
Trump Is No Accident
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Biden and the Common Sense Voter
Timothy Ingalsbee
Ecosystems, Logging and the Definition of Insanity
Elliot Sperber
The Birds of Brooklyn
June 02, 2020
Zoltan Grossman
Deploying Federal Troops in a War at Home Would Make a Bad Situation Worse
Nicholas Buccola
Amy Cooper is Christian Cooper’s Lost, Younger Sister 
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming is Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
An Unavoidable Recognition of Failure: Trump’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan
John Feffer
Is It Time to Boycott the USA?