June 2017 New York NY: By APB Staff Writer
She was known around the world – and in New York City – as the “First Lady of Song!”
For the annual Make Music New York Festival, the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald was honored on the 100th Anniversary of her birth with a mobile piano bar karaoke van which stopped at various landmarks in Harlem.
Singers – amateur and professional – had the unique opportunity to render songs from Ella’s remarkable body of work before a live audience of neighborhood residents, sidewalk vendors, construction workers, moms with their strollers, and tourists – all on the streets of this famed neighborhood.
The Make Music New York mobile truck began its journey at a significant locale in Ella’s career: The Apollo Theater. Noted Apollo Theater Ambassador and Historian Billy Mitchell, Ms. Fitzgerald’s career took off at the Apollo on a night when she was originally scheduled to dance. Young Ella was greatly intimidated by the talents of the other dancers, so she decided to sing instead. Yet her nerves got to her as she forgot the lyrics and she began to scat sing. Thus a legend was born – as Ella was the first female winner of the legendary Amateur Night at the Apollo, and her style of scat singing influenced generations of vocalists.
With stops at such venues as Red Rooster/Ginny’s Supper Club and Shrine, and the final destination: the Jazz Museum of Harlem, Ella’s hits including “Summertime,” “Blue Skies,” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” sounded as contemporary as they did when they were recorded over a half century ago.
Now in its eleventh year, Make Music New York is a musical celebration of the summer solstice in all five boroughs of New York City. This year’s Make Music New York festival featured over 1,000 free concerts and performances.