Fitzgerald wasn’t recognized to talk publicly about racial injustice, however in 2018, I discovered an previous recording on the Paley Center for Media of a 1963 interview between Fitzgerald and her buddy, the radio D.J. Fred Robbins. In it, she says, “I used to always clam up because you say, ‘Well gee, show people should stay out of politics.’ But we have traveled so much and been embarrassed so much. People can’t understand why you don’t play in Alabama, why can’t you have a concert — music is music … I think that these policemen down there that people can’t even pray without them going to put them in jail, I mean, I’m wondering what’s in their mind?” On the tape, you may hear her pause, take a deep breath after which add, “The die-hards, they’re going to just die hard, they’re not going to give in. I’m so happy I got a chance to get a few things off my chest. I’m just a human being.” Sadly, the interview was by no means broadcast.
Tony Bennett, who knew and beloved Fitzgerald, informed me for the movie, “Ella never made a political statement except the one time she said to me — it was only three words, and it was the most complete definition of the ignorance of the world in the way they treat African-Americans. She said, ‘Tony, we’re all here.’”
Fitzgerald died in Los Angeles in 1996. The Apollo, although, continues to be a vibrant theater the place younger musicians get their begin. Among them is Alexis Morrast, a singer who received an newbie night time competitors on the Apollo in 2017 together with her efficiency of Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine.” When Morrast introduced her track selection, she referred to as it Ella Fitzgerald’s “My Funny Valentine.”
A 12 months later, Morrast agreed to an interview on the Apollo for my documentary. Leslie Woodhead, the director, a number of the movie crew and I sat within the viewers as she spoke. Standing on the stage, the place a younger Fitzgerald had taken her probability 84 years earlier, Morrast mirrored on her idol. “Everything comes back around,” she stated. “The method that Ella was reserved, the way in which she was poised and passionate, you possibly can by no means inform what her emotions have been till she obtained to the music, after which it was all the time happiness and pleasure and every little thing that you possibly can have ever hoped for.”
“Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things” is offered to stream on Eventive beginning June 26.