Powerful Women Join Forces, Combat Racism, Save Music, Improve World

In case you didn’t know, let me clear this up for you: Ella Fitzgerald is the greatest singer to have ever lived. Remember when Haley started editing here and talked about how it’d be a blog full of petty enthusiasms, about small, maybe a little weird, ideas that people were just really excited about?? Well, either way, “Ella Fitzgerald is the greatest singer to have ever lived” is not a petty enthusiasm, it is an irrefutable fact, and if you don’t believe me then I want NOTHING to do with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, turns out Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe were besties, which, man, can you think of a better sentence? People have been talking a lot about privilege and allyship lately, particularly vis-a-vis the #BlackLivesMatters movement, but if you’re looking for an example, look to Marilyn:

Fitzgerald was not allowed to play at Mocambo because of her race. Then, one of her biggest fans made a telephone call that quite possibly changed the path of her career for good. Here, she tells the story of how Marilyn Monroe changed her life:

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt … she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him — and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status — that the press would go wild.

“The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again.”

After Fitzgerald died, Frank Rich wrote a tribute to her in the New York Times, which I read all the time because I think it’s filled with some of the nicest words anyone’s ever said about anybody. “It’s not just that her singing is beautiful. It is also liberating, transporting us into a realm of pleasure beyond all barriers, whether of race and age, of jazz and pop, of high art and low, or even, when she floats into scat, of language. That timelessness will never fade.”

Imagine, that power, that sound, that voice, relegated to small jazz clubs; all the opportunities Ella might’ve lost, all the other singers who didn’t have a Marilyn. Good looking out, Monroe; I owe you one.

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