NN Loves Ella

In 1997, the City of Newport News created a music festival in partnership with Christopher Newport University to honor Ella Fitzgerald. Performers at the week-long festival have included: Aretha Franklin, Lalah Hathaway, Natalie Cole, and Roy Ayers.

In 2008, the city re-named 24th Street as “Ella Fitzgerald Way”. That same year, the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center opened just a few blocks away from her birthplace on Marshall Avenue. During our grand opening celebration featuring performers Roberta Flack and Queen Esther Marrow, we dedicated the brand new 276-seat theater as the Ella Fitzgerald Theater.

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About Ella Fitzgerald

Born: April 25, 1917 in Newport News, Virginia
Died: June 15, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California

"Dubbed 'The First Lady of Song,' Ella Fitzgerald was the most popular female jazz singer in the United States for more than half a century. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.

Her voice was flexible, wide-ranging, accurate and ageless. She could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz and imitate every instrument in an orchestra. She worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Nat King Cole, to Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman. (Or rather, some might say all the jazz greats had the pleasure of working with Ella.)

She performed at top venues all over the world, and packed them to the hilt. Her audiences were as diverse as her vocal range. They were rich and poor, made up of all races, all religions and all nationalities. In fact, many of them had just one binding factor in common - they all loved her."

From Ella Fitzgerald's biography.
Source: www.ellafitzgerald.com

Ella Events

Check out our Ella events and others from around Hampton Roads.

Is your organization sponsoring an Ella-related event during the centennial season, from September 2016 - August 2017?  Submit your event to be featured on our calendar by clicking the "Suggest Event" button below.