'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things': When, where and how to watch movie on the rise of 'Queen of Jazz'
Despite troubled beginnings, Fitzgerald managed to battle sexism and racism to establish herself as one of the most iconic jazz singers of all time
Ella Jane Fitzgerald was one of the most iconic and influential American jazz singers. Her unique tone, faultless diction, phrasing, timing, and stunning ability to improvise, especially with scatting, earned her titles such as the 'First Lady of Song' as well as the 'Queen of Jazz'.
Despite the glamor that came to define her on-stage persona later on, Fitzgerald's youth was tumultuous, to say the least. She spent her younger years on the streets of Harlem, dreaming of making it big someday. Right from her childhood, Fitzgerald found herself exposed to jazz and gospel music, particularly via the Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church where her family attended worship services. Soon, the budding artist found herself enamored with the music of Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell Sisters, mimicking what she heard and teaching herself to sound like the singers she looked up to.
Her life took a turn for the worse following the untimely passing of her mother following a car accident when Fitzgerald was only 15. While the singer never confirmed it herself, it is presumed her stepfather abused her following her mother's death. Fitzgerald soon found herself falling behind in school working as a lookout for a bordello and mixing with members of the mafia. She also, however, made money off of singing on the streets of Harlem, leading her to one of the most important moments of her career: her debut at the age of 17 at the Amateur Nights at the Apollo Theater in 1934. Her prize was performing at the Apollo for a week, but most likely owing to her disheveled appearance, Fitzgerald was never given the chance.
She eventually found more stable work in the music industry following her success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, with whom she performed across the country. And in 1942, Fitzgerald finally embarked on a solo career, one that would propel her to superstardom and cement her legacy as one of the most gifted jazz singers of all time.
Fitzgerald's final performance was in 1993, following nearly 60 years in the industry. She would pass away three years later, aged 79, following a long period of declining health. 'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things' traces the life of Fitzgerald, from her humble, rocky youth all the way to her rise to the top and eventual passing. Read on for everything you need to know about the upcoming documentary.
Originally scheduled for an April theatrical release, 'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things', is now set to play in virtual theatres from June 26 through July 10.
Featuring never-before-seen footage as well as interviews with Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Itzhak Perlman, Norma Miller, the late Andre Previn, and a rare conversation with Ella Fitzgerald’s son, Ray Brown Jr, this film traces Fitzgerald's journey from an abused teen to becoming one of the most celebrated singers in the industry. Her rise was even more remarkable, considering Fitzgerald accomplished all her feats as a black woman in a male-dominated industry during a time when segregation was still the norm.
To that end, Fitzgerald's legacy cannot be separated from topics like racism and sexism. The singer herself was a vocal Civil Rights activist, aside from being an award-winning artist, and 'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things' documents all of these aspects of her life via archival footage and anecdotal tales told by some of her dearest friends and collaborators.
Director and producer
'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things' is directed by award-winning filmmaker Leslie Woodhead and produced by novelist Reggie Nadelson.
Where to watch
Originally meant to be released in cinemas nationwide, the theatrical run of 'Ella Fitzgerald: Just One Of Those Things' was canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Eagle Rock has now elected to release the movie via virtual theatres, allowing audiences to experience it from the comfort of their own homes even as the company continues to lend its support to local movie theaters. The documentary can also be viewed via TV viewing apps available for AppleTV, Roku and AndroidTV.
For screening times and ticket information, click here.