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Peak of Her Powers

By the 1950s, Ella Fitzgerald was at the peak of her vocal powers. Her Songbook series came to be regarded as a cornerstone of recorded 20th-century popular song. Her takes on the standards proved that women could be more than singers of songs—they could apply talent and creative vision to give pieces new life. Her renditions also broadened her popularity; she became a fixture on television and on international stages.

Press kit folder
around 1985
 
A press kit folder labeled simply “Ella” attests to her fame.
Contract
1954
 
Fitzgerald began working with producer Norman Granz in the late 1940s. She initially performed as part of his Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe. He later became her manager.
Photo
around 1956
 
Norman Granz owned several record labels, including Verve, and produced many of Fitzgerald’s recordings.
Magazine
1956
 
Fitzgerald appeared multiple times on the cover of Down Beat, America’s leading jazz magazine.
Letter
around 1960
 
Singer Pearl Bailey wrote this affectionate note to her friend Fitzgerald.
Passport
1959
 
Entrance and departure stamps from many countries in Fitzgerald’s 1959 U.S. passport offer evidence of her active international performance schedule.
Work permit
1981
 
This work permit is one of several that allowed Fitzgerald to perform across the globe.
Program
1959
 
This program booklet details Fitzgerald’s performance at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Washington, D.C.
Movie theater lobby card
1958
 
The motion picture St. Louis Blues featured Fitzgerald as a singer.
LP cover
1955
 
First Lady of Song contains a selection of Fitzgerald’s recordings for Decca Records from 1947-55.

LP cover
1956

In 1956, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook became the first in Fitzgerald’s series of nine Songbook recordings.

LP cover
1956
 
Also issued in 1956, Ella and Louis was the first of several collaborative albums recorded by Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
LP cover
1962
 
From 1962, Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson features the work of Nelson Riddle, who also wrote arrangements for Nat “King” Cole and Frank Sinatra.