Black History Month Spotlight: Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie


Today’s Black History Month spotlight is on singer Ella Fitzgerald and musician Count Basie.

Ella Fitzgerald
  • Born on April 15, 1917, Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz vocalist known for her 3-octave range and scatting ability.
  • On Grammy night in 1958, Fitzgerald won 2 awards, and throughout her 59 year career, she earned 13 total, along with being awarded the National Medal of Art by President Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush.
Count Basie
  • William “Count” Basie was on born on August 21, 1904 and was an American jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.
  • On Grammy night of 1958, Basie won 2 awards.
  • Basie’s nearly 50 year, influential career earned him many accolades, including being awarded the Presidential Medial of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Although Basie died in 1984, his son Aaron Woodward accepted the award on his father’s behalf.

Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie were the first African-American Grammy Award winners, in 1958.

Fitzgerald and Basie performing



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