On this Day:

May 4, 1959 First Grammy Awards:  Ella Fitzgerald wins.

History of the Grammy Awards

The first prestigious Grammy Awards were on May 4, 1959. The Oscars and the Emmys had been in existence since 1929 and 1949 respectively. In 1958, the Gramophone Awards had their first ceremony. Oddly enough, it was the construction of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the 1950’s which spurred a renewed interest in celebrating the contributions of the country’s talented musicians, composers and songwriters.

The Grammy Award winners are selected by the Recording Academy, otherwise known as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). In the 1950’s when the Hollywood Walk of Fame was conceived by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, music industry executives were asked to contribute names from the music industry to be included in the recognition along the Walk. They elected a group to select the musicians to be honoured. Realizing many music stars would never be recognized along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that same group of Music Industry leaders started the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and began the Gramophone Awards that later morphed into the Grammy Awards.

The two pop artists that received awards were Ella Fitzgerald and Perry Como for best female and male vocal performances. The record and song of the year were both won by Domenico Modugno for “Volare”. The album of the year was the theme song for “Peter Gunn”, the private eye television series that aired from 1958 to 1960. It was composed by Henry Mancini.

The 1958 Grammy Awards were presented on May 4th, 1959 at two locations on either side of the country, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, and the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City. The Grammy Awards began with only 28 categories , whereas today, there are over 84 categories of music to be awarded. Since its inception, the Grammy Awards have added additional genres of music and further expanded the awards categories from simply best solo performance to now include best duo/group performance and a full range of best subcategories within each genre. Rather than one category of best song for the year, now there are as many categories for best song and best album as there are genres. So now, every genre has a best song and a best album awarded.

Today, in order to cast a vote for the Grammy Winners, you must be a Recording Academy member. Members are music industry professionals: vocalists, songwriters, engineers, producers, or one of the many music professionals joining NARAS. To qualify for membership, you must have creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks of music or 12 digital albums.

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald, in full Ella Jane Fitzgerald, (born April 25, 1917, Newport News, Virginia, U.S.—died June 15, 1996, Beverly Hills, California), was an American jazz singer who became world famous for the wide range and rare sweetness of her voice. She became an international legend during a career that spanned some six decades.

As a child, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer, but she panicked at an amateur contest in 1934 at New York City’s Apollo Theatre  when she saw the Edward sisters at the show who according to her were “the danciest sisters around”. So, instead she sang, in a style influenced by the jazz vocalist Connee Boswell, and won first prize. The following year Fitzgerald joined the Chick Webb orchestra; Webb became the teenaged Fitzgerald’s guardian when her mother died. She made her first recording, “Love and Kisses,” in 1935, and her first hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” followed in 1938. After Webb’s death in 1939, she led his band until it broke up in 1942. She then soloed in cabarets and theatres and toured internationally with such pop and jazz stars as Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots, and Dizzy Gillespie. She also recorded prolifically.

Fitzgerald’s clear tone and wide vocal range were complemented by her mastery of rhythm, harmony, intonation, and diction. She was an excellent ballad singer, conveying a winsome, ingenuous quality. Her infectious scat singing brought excitement to such concert recordings as Mack the Knife: Ella in Berlin and was widely imitated by others. She garnered 14 Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. She also received a Kennedy Center Honour for lifetime achievement (1979) and the National Medal of Arts (1987).

https://atlantadisc.com/history-of-the-grammy-awards/                                                                                                                    https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ella-Fitzgerald                                                                                                                                    https://www.iheart.com/content/2018-01-30-10-important-ella-fitzgerald-facts-you-need-to-know/

First, a Story:

Q: Who was the jazziest elf?
A: Elfa Fitzgerald
Second, a Song:
Ella Fitzgerald singing her first hit, A-Tisket-A-Tasket. We hope you enjoy!

Thought for the Day:

“Just don’t give up trying what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” – Ella Fitzgerald

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2022 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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