Fats Waller (1904–1943)

African-American pianist Fats Waller wrote such jazz standards as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and earned fame for his comedic radio performances in the 1930s. Synopsis Born on May 21, 1904, in New York City, Fats Waller was influenced as a teenager by jazz great James P. Johnson. He proved a gifted piano player and songwriter, delivering such jazz standards as “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” In the 1930s, Waller’s fame … Continue reading Fats Waller (1904–1943)

Profile: Sarah Vaughan

Synopsis Born on March 27, 1924, in Newark, New Jersey, Sarah Vaughan grew up with a love of music and performing. Winning a talent competition held at Harlem’s Apollo Theater launched her singing career. She worked with bandleaders Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine before becoming a successful solo performer who commingled pop and jazz. At age 66, Vaughan died in Hidden Hills, California, on April … Continue reading Profile: Sarah Vaughan

Profile: Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

  Born in 1917, Ella Fitzgerald turned to singing after a troubled childhood and debuted at the Apollo Theater in 1934. Discovered in an amateur contest, she went on to become the top female jazz singer for decades. In 1958, Fitzgerald made history as the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. Due in no small part to her vocal quality, with lucid intonation and a … Continue reading Profile: Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

Profile: Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Billie Holiday Biography Jazz vocalist Billie Holiday was born in 1915 in Philadelphia. Considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years before she lost her battle with substance abuse. Also known as Lady Day, her autobiography was made into the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. In 2000, Billie Holiday was inducted … Continue reading Profile: Billie Holiday (1915-1959)