Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Remembering Ella, Now 100

They called her "The First Lady of Song." Ella Fitzgerald, born 100 years ago today. Since her death in 1996, she has ascended to a level she was said to occupy in life, that of a genuine musical legend; she is now interred in box sets with celestial collaborators.

It's hard for me to believe now, but I was once in her presence - backstage at Cincinnati's Music Hall in September 1977 - and even touched her shoulder, which was covered in heavy mink, in hello and farewell. I don't think she felt it, and she might have looked askance at me or clobbered me if she had. But it's what I came away with from our brief encounter, rather than an autograph or a conversation. I stood beside her as she talked with another fan. She had a charmed music even in her speaking voice, but she also had the staunch aura of a warrior, of someone who had endured a lot of ugliness to bring a little beauty into the world.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved.