She was everything you have always assumed her to be: a modest, at times painfully shy woman, whose all-consuming raison d'etre was to sing for those millions of us who thrilled hearing her perfect voice and infectiously playful, swinging improvisations. Born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, endless streams of data are being cited by radio hosts and music scholars around the world marking this date of her birth one hundred years ago.
The radio sat on my bedside table, allowing me to easily control the sound, kept low to keep from disturbing my parents or my sister in adjoining bedrooms. Those late-night disc jockeys were my heroes, generously sharing their enthusiasm for the music, and more importantly for me, identifying the musicians, names which were well-known to seasoned enthusiasts, but totally new to me, filling the empty spaces of my brain greedily absorbing this new and exciting information. I was learning about jazz, its soloists and singers who introduced me to a music I'd forever embrace.
Not surprisingly, I didn't realize my voice contained qualities similar to Ella's, so I studied her distinctive sound, tried to emulate her precise diction, flawless intonation and fastidious choice of material. Like her, I never received formal vocal training, unable to this day to read music. However, her brilliantly straight-forward approach made it relatively easy to memorize songs, and her approach became my personal User's Manual, forming the basis of my own repertoire.
Because I bought her records and studied them with youthful zeal, in my view we were and remain connected with umbilical strength.
which I recently posted at
my FaceBook Home Page ....
There beside Ella, I couldn't resist the golden opportunity to ask: "Ella. Is it possible, with your vast repertoire, you have a favorite song?" She replied without hesitation: "Oh yes", and began to sing the beautiful verse that begins: "I have almost everything a human could desire."* She asked me if I knew it, and when I said I did, and we began to sing the rest of the verse together. Just the two of us.
In a quiet corner of a luxury space reserved for exclusive first-class passengers, I knew I was the most privileged of them all.