March is Women in JAZZ history appreciation month!

Ok, I know I'm way late on the subject, but I figured I had to give these ladies some love. March is the month for women's appreciation, and what better way to appreciate the females than through their beautiful music. As you all know, jazz music has had an array of amazing female innovators, voices, songs, stories, and legacies. Here are just some of those fabulous voices:

Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Billie Holiday began singing for tips in various Harlem night clubs during the early 1930s. A penniless Holiday moved an audience to tears when she sang "Body and Soul" in a local club. In 1933, she was discovered by John Hammond, who arranged for her debut recording with Benny Goodman that same year. Two years later, Holiday once again recorded with Goodman along with a group led by pianist Teddy Wilson in which they recorded "What A Little Moonlight Can Do" and "Miss Brown To You." These tunes helped launch Billie Holiday as a major female vocalist, and she began recording under her own name in 1936. One her most famous songs, "Strange Fruit", a song based on a poem about lynching, was highly controversial for its time. Unfortunately, Holiday felt that the song's message had been misconstrued; saying that people would always ask her to sing that sexy song about people swinging. "Strange Fruit" still remains one of her most notable tunes. Other Holiday songs: "Your Mother Son In Law," "Riffin' the Scotch," "What A Night, What A Moon, What A Girl," "Fine and Mellow," "God Bless This Child," and "Lady Sings the Blues"

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Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

Ella Fitzgerald was one of those stellar finds. She loved the works of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and The Boswell Sisters. Her career began after winning a contest at the Apollo and joining Chick Webb's band. Fitzgerald had several hits with Webb's Orchestra including "Love and Kisses" and "If You Can Sing It, You'll Have To Swing It." But in 1938, she became widely known across the music scene after the recording of "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." From there, Fitzgerald started performing solo and then became big during the big band and swing eras. But probably the one thing most notable thing about Ella Fitzgerald was her invention of scat singing. She developed this style of singing while working with Dizzy Gillespie's band, and she had said that she tried to do with her voice what she heard the horns in the band doing. Little did she know, this improvised way of singing would make her one of the most influential singers in jazz music history. Some of her works would include "Flying Home," "How High the Moon," "That Old Black Magic."

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Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990)

Sarah Vaughan, also known as "The Divine One," began her career very similar to Ella Fitzgerald. She won a talent contest at the Apollo just like Fitzgerald did. Shortly after her Apollo performance, band leader and pianist Earl Hines and singer Billy Eckstine had been credited for discovering Vaughan. In April of 1943, Vaughan became Hines' leading female singer. During her time with the Earl Hines band, Vaughan worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Bennie Green. After some time with Hines, Vaughan started her solo career in 1945. Like Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan could move swiftly from pop songs to jazz show tunes. Some of her work includes "Black Coffee," "All Or Nothing At All," and "My Funny Valentine."

Obviously, these are only some incredible women that touched that jazz scene. I'll try to put some others up to continue the celebration of women in jazz. Until then, enjoy the fabulous women!

Takin' Five...

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