Roots: Black History Month, For Ella

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It goes without saying that Africans have a storied past. February is Black History Month across the United States and Canada. It is a celebration of the history of Africa and its people in diaspora.

Some believe that it is inadequate to confine the celebration to one month. This set of people believe, and quite rightly so, that it should be a far more sustained observance. Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, went as far as to say: “I don’t want a Black history month. Black history is American history”.

Africans may have a storied past, but we do have a gloried one as well. Click To Tweet

On the other hand, it is arguable that if the celebration is to have any strong significance, it needs to be articulated within a particular time period. Humans mark events of importance by their dates; it is how we venerate.

So, this month, let us celebrate African diaspora through the life of Ella Jane Fitzgerald.

The First Lady of Song

Ella Fitzgerald was born in Virginia, U. S. on the 25th of April 1917 to William Fitzgerald and Temperance Henry. She was a prolific jazz singer noted in particular for her mastery of scat singing. Sometimes denoted as the First Lady of Song, and the Queen of Jazz, she was known for her purity of tone and superior vocal capabilities.

Some of her finest work include songs like: Dream a Little Dream of Me, Cheek to Cheek and Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall. After a career that spanned nearly 60 years, Ella Fitzgerald succumbed to a stroke in June of 1996 at the age of 79 after battling diabetes for several years. However, that did nothing to change the fact that she remains a champion, a winner and an inspiration.

Through her music, she was able to touch the lives of many, and inspire subsequent generations of musicians. The legacy she left behind is a monumental one. A recipient of numerous awards, Ella Fitzgerald holds the record for the first female to win multiple GRAMMY awards.

She lived a full life and will forever be a shining example of the accomplishments of Africans anywhere in the world. In other words, she serves as a steady reminder that we Africans may have a storied past, but we do have a gloried one as well.

For Ella, Happy Black History Month.

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