Very few artists acquire the chance to begin their careers by performing with well established members of their industry; and Ella Fitzgerald was one of those few. Her first recording was with Chick Webb in 1935 after which she became part of the famous Chick Webb Orchestra. She would sing with the Chick Webb Orchestra in the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Famous bands would take turns and engage in musical battles in the Savoy Ballroom and the Chick Webb Orchestra got its chance to compete in the May of 1937. During that competition Ella Fitzgerald is known to have given one of her best performances and it came as no surprise that the Chick Webb Orchestra subsequently won. After Webb had passed away, Ella led the band until 1942. This was the first time in music history that a woman had become the leader of a jazz band (Schoeneberger).
Ella was one of the few singers whose career refused to decline despite of the steadily changing audience tastes. By the early 40s, the demand for romantic pop had begun to replace that of jazz. During this time, Ella “worked her way out of trouble with a programmed of performances and recordings that was to remain hectic for decades to come” (Spiller, p. 65). Ella performed numerous tours during her career. Her first tour was to London in 1948 when she toured England.
The 1950s came forth as the peak of Ella’s career as she continued to sing and perform well accepted records individually and through collaborations as well. She recorded duets with Ellis Larkins and even came in a few movies in the same decade. The decade also marked the establishment of Norman Granz’s Verve label which was to function solely for her (Scott).