Ella Fitzgerald – Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

positive musicElla Fitzgerald – Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive

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lyrics:

Gather ’round me, everybody
Gather ’round me, while I preach some
Feel a sermon coming on here
The topic will be sin
And that’s what I’m agin’
If you wanna hear my story
Then settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewing
The attitude of doing right

You got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister inbetween

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You got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
And have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, noah in the ark,
What did they do, just when everything looked so dark?
Man, they said, we better

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with mister inbetween

About Ella Fitzgerald:

Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz”, and “Lady Ella”, was an American jazz vocalist with a vocal range spanning three octaves (D♭3 to D♭6). She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, the daughter of Temperance “Tempie” and William Fitzgerald. The pair separated soon after her birth, and Ella and her mother went to Yonkers, New York, where they eventually moved in with Tempie’s longtime boyfriend, Joseph Da Silva. Ella Fitzgerald‘s half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923. She and her family were Methodists and were active in the Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church, and she regularly attended worship services, Bible study, and Sunday school. In her youth, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer, although she loved listening to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell Sisters. She idolized the lead singer Connee Boswell, later saying, “My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it….I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

In 1932, her mother died from a heart attack. Following this trauma, Fitzgerald’s grades dropped dramatically, and she frequently skipped school. Abused by her stepfather, she ran away to her aunt and, at one point, worked as a lookout at a bordello and also with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner. When the authorities caught up with her, she was first placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, Bronx. However, when the orphanage proved too crowded, she was moved to the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York, a state reformatory. Eventually she escaped and for a time was homeless.

She made her singing debut at 17 on November 21, 1934, at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. She pulled in a weekly audience at the Apollo and won the opportunity to compete in one of the earliest of its famous “Amateur Nights”. She had originally intended to go on stage and dance, but, intimidated by the Edwards Sisters, a local dance duo, she opted to sing instead in the style of Connee Boswell. She sang Boswell’s “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection,” a song recorded by the Boswell Sisters, and won the first prize of US$25.00.

Fitzgerald is also referred to on the 1987 song “Ella, elle l’a” by French singer France Gall, the 1976 Stevie Wonder hit “Sir Duke” from his album Songs in the Key of Life, and the song “I Love Being Here With You”, written by Peggy Lee and Bill Schluger. Frank Sinatra‘s 1986 recording of “Mack the Knife” from his album L.A. Is My Lady (1984) includes a homage to some of the song’s previous performers, including ‘Lady Ella’ herself. She is also honored in the song “First Lady” by Canadian artist Nikki Yanofsky.

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