Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1918, in Newport News, Virginia, to a laundress mother and a father. Her father disappeared when she was three years old. She soon moved to Yonkers, New York, with her mother and stepfather, where she began her schooling musical education in public schools. In 1932, when she was fifteen, her mother died suddenly of a heart attack. Her stepfather treated her badly, but an aunt took the teenager to live with her in Harlem. This arrangement did not last long, Fitzgerald ran away in 1934 to live on the streets. Late that year she won a talent contest at the Apollo Theater; she had entered as a dancer, but nervousness caused her to sing instead. Several months later she joined drummer Chick Webb’s big band, where she mostly sang novelties like "Vote for Mr. Rhythm".
In 1938 she recorded "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", her own adaptation of a turn-of-the-century nursery rhyme, which took the country by storm and eventually sold a million copies. When Webb died in 1939 the band’s management installed Fitzgerald as leader. In 1942 the band broke up and Fitzgerald became a single act, touring with other popular names of the day. In the late 1940s Fitzgerald began to tour with the Jazz at the Philharmonic troupe, working with such leading musicians as saxophonist Lester Young, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, pianist Oscar Peterson, and bassist Ray Brown, to whom she was married for four years. By the 1960s Fitzgerald had become wealthy enough to retire, but the love of performing drove her on — she appeared regularly until just a couple of years before her death in 1996. But, except when health problems intervened, she performed as much as humanly possible. Sometimes she does singing concerts in two different cities in one day. Ella Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996. Ella Fitzgerald grew up strong and tough even through a hard life. She was amazing and never gave up!