For more than half a century, Ella Fitzgerald packed houses around the world with her peerless delivery of ballads, pop standards and straight-ahead jazz. With her incomparable voice and astonishing technique, the beloved “First Lady of Song” consistently ranked among the top female jazz artists in the United States, garnering 13 Grammy Awards and selling more than 40 million albums.
It would be impossible to overestimate her influence on the next generation of musicians and singers. Many of them — including Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, Ruben Studdard, Nancy Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Wynonna Judd, to name a few — are commemorating what would have been Ella’s 90th birthday (April 25, 2007) with an all-star tribute concert at the University of Southern California’s Galen Center.GREAT PERFORMANCES takes public television viewers to this once-in-a-lifetime event when “We Love Ella! A Tribute to the First Lady of Song” airs Wednesday, June 13, at 8 p.m. on KUED-Channel 7.
Natalie Cole and Quincy Jones host the event, which also features performances by George Duke, Jon Faddis, Dave Koz, Ledisi, Monica Mancini, James Moody, Take 6, The USC Thornton Symphony and Jazz Orchestra, and Lizz Wright. The program, directed by David Horn, also includes interviews, anecdotes, a slideshow and never-before-released vocal tracks by Ella.
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