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Ella Fitzgerald & Norman Granz: She Was His Star

Excerpt from Tad Hershorn's Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice

Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald
Norman Granz

Norman Granz, the impresario who made his name at the helm of Jazz at the Philharmonic, was hardly impressed when he first heard Ella Fitzgerald with the Ink Spots in his hometown of Los Angeles in the early ’40s. The singer was equally hesitant about Granz’s vaunted intensity when, four years after she debuted with JATP in 1949, he asked to become her personal manager. Nevertheless, he began producing her records in 1956 with the formation of Verve Records, resulting in some of the most thrilling and enduring vocal sides of all time. The combination of Granz’s business savvy and Fitzgerald’s immense talent elevated her status from one of jazz’s most beloved singers to the international First Lady of Song.

This excerpt from Tad Hershorn’s soon-to-be-published Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice (University of California Press) explores the complex history and sometimes mysterious nature of that legendary partnership.

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