Singer Ella Fitzgerald, one of the 20th century"s many famed and beloved jazz figures, passed away yesterday at she Beverly Hills residence after a long illness.

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The 78-year-old "First Lady the Song," who had been battling diabetes for countless years and had shed both foot to the disease, passed away peacefully, surrounded by relatives and friends, claimed her spokeswoman, Andrea Hecht.

It to be an understatement — in a distinctive career that extended well over half a century, Fitzgerald ended up being a veritable icon of the jazz world, recording more than 250 albums and also making numerous concert appearances anywhere the globe.

Comfortable v ballads, moody melodies and also the lightning-fast scat riffs the she make a specialty, she was among the most acquainted voices in both jazz and pop idioms.

and also one the the most loved. Together news that her fatality spread, tributes started pouring in. "She was the many perfectly musical singer that there ever before was," claimed Will Friedwald, a jazz historian.

The astounding career started on a whim one afternoon in 1934 when she to be 16 and some girlfriend dared her to get in an amateur night contest at a theater in Harlem.

In a clear, pure voice, she sang two popular songs of the day, "Judy" and "The object of mine Affection," and also when the group went wild she winner the $10 prize.

through chance, an combine of bandleader Chick Webb was sitting in the audience the day and he knew gold once he heard it. He convinced Webb to give the teenager a tryout, and also Webb signed she up for a band date at Yale University.


Born and also orphaned in Newport News, Va., Ella was on her own in brand-new York City. Webb and also his wife took her in, and Webb became the teen"s legit guardian, very closely supervising and also managing every element of her life both on and off the bandstand.

Under Webb"s tutelage, Ella quickly came to be famous, appearing on radio shows and in nightclubs. She turned the end to it is in a composer as well as a vocalist — sooner or later she whipped up part improvisations about an old nursery rhyme and came up v "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," among the best-selling documents of all time and also a resides of the Grammy hall of Fame.

Musicians often said she supplied her voice prefer a music instrument, one that can hit barrel-deep base notes as well as pure, glassy highs.

She had an intuitive capability to improvise both rhythmically and melodically, to interpret and also embroider both music and lyrics; placed Fitzgerald in addition to a good jazz pianist, bassist and drummer, and also you instantly had actually yourself a an excellent jazz quartet.

A songwriter and a singer, Fitzgerald wrote or cowrote a variety of popular songs, including "You showed Me the Way," "Once is enough for Me" and also "Please tell Me the Truth."

She was called favorite singer in numerous jazz polls, and also honors past number were awarded to she over the years. In 1979, she to be made a Kennedy center honoree together with Aaron Copland, Henry Fonda, Martha Graham and also Tennessee Williams.

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during a concert tourism in respectable 1985, she to be hospital summary for therapy of fluid buildup in her lungs. In July 1986, she was hospitalized again, suffering congestive heart failure.