From Associated Press
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 10, 2:25 AM ET
WASHINGTON – The lady is a stamp! The U.S. Postal Service honors the First Lady of Song — Ella Fitzgerald — with her own postage stamp Wednesday.
The 39-cent stamp is being released at ceremonies at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, and will be on sale across the country.
People who don’t know about her will see the stamp and think: “What makes this person special? And perhaps find out about the person and about the music,” said her son, Ray Brown Jr.
Fitzgerald wasn’t self-important, perhaps reflecting the values she sang about in the Rodgers and Hart song “The Lady is a Tramp”:
“I don’t like crap games, with barons and earls. Won’t go to Harlem, in ermine and pearls. Won’t dish the dirt, with the rest of the girls. That’s why the lady is a tramp.”
Phoebe Jacobs, executive vice president of The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation and a longtime friend of Fitzgerald, described the singer as “a very private lady, very humble.”
After Fitzgerald confided in 1961 that she had never had a birthday party, Jacobs gathered a star-studded collection of people for the special event. The party was a secret, so Fitzgerald was told to dress up because there was a television interview.
When the lights came on she took her pocket book and hit me on the shoulder,” Jacobs recalled. “She was like a little kid, she was so happy.”
Fitzgerald was a baseball fan and the guests included her favorite player, Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle. They embraced and traded autographs.
Fitzgerald’s appearance on a stamp comes less than a year after Mantle was featured among baseball sluggers.
Born in Newport News, Va., in 1917, Ella Jane Fitzgerald moved with her mother to Yonkers, N.Y., as a youngster and began to sing and dance from an early age. She began winning talent competitions in the early 1930s and was hired to sing with Chick Webb’s band.
She later became famous as a scat singer, vocalizing nonsense syllables, and performed with most of the great musicians of the time. She recorded the song books of such composers as Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and Johnny Mercer.
Over the years, Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy Awards and many other honors, including the National Medal of Arts, presented to her in 1987 by President Reagan.