Summer Jazz – William Price King meets Ella Fitzgerald – The Final Performance

William and his music

This is the final performance in the Ella Fitzgerald story and today it is time to pay tribute to this extraordinary artist by showcasing some of her live performances. William Price King picks up the story in 1986


Ella’s health had been failing for some time and in 1986 she underwent quintuple bypass surgery. She also required a new heart valve and was diagnosed with diabetes that had resulted in a deterioration of her eyesight. The rumour mill went into overdrive and pronounced that the Queen of Jazz would never sing again.

Ella however, yet again proved what a true performer that she was and returned to the stage with a punishing concert tour. Her last live concert was at Carnegie Hall in 1991 which was the 26th time she had performed at this prestigious venue. In this final tribute to this astonishing first lady of song we are going to feature some of her live performances. Here is What’s Going On (Renaldo “Obie” Benson and Marvin Gaye) at the Newport Jazz Festival 1973 at Carnegie Hall.

Ella recorded over 200 albums in her career and won fourteen Grammy Awards, achieving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1967. She also received the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, The National Medal of Art and the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by President George Bush. In 1990 she received an honorary doctorate of Music from Harvard University.

Here is April in Paris (Vernon Duke and E.Y. Harburg) Live at Jazz Pour Tous, Brussels, Belgium, 1957

Ella Fitzgerald was not only a musical performer but an advocate for civil rights and women and children’s causes. She never forgot her own start in life and gave generously to organisations for disadvantaged young people. This commitment to contributing to welfare was one of the reasons that Ella felt compelled to keep performing even when her health began to fail. Here is an example of that ‘Show must go on’ attitude that was her hallmark.. Performing on the Sammy Davis 1989 60th Anniversary Celebration


The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation was created and funded in 1993 by Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song, in order to fulfil her desires to use the fruits of her success to help people of all races, cultures and beliefs. Ella hoped to make their lives more rewarding, and she wanted to foster a love of reading, as well as a love of music. In addition, she hoped to provide assistance to the at-risk and disadvantaged members of our communities – assistance that would enable them to achieve a better quality of life. The Board of Directors of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation seeks to continue Ella Fitzgerald’s goals by making charitable grants serving four major areas of interest:

1 creating educational and other opportunities for children
2 fostering a love and knowledge of music, including assistance to students of music
3 the provision of health care, food, shelter and counseling to those in need
4 specific areas of medical care and research with an emphasis on Diabetes, vision problems and heart disease

Her contribution to the world of music was recognised in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan awarded her the National Medal of Arts and it was one of her most treasured moments.Ella had performed at the White House and here is a photograph taken in 1981 with President Reagan

Ella and Ronald after White House Performance 1981

The USA was not the only nation to recognise her work and France awarded Ella the Commander of Arts and Letters award in 1990.   Here is one of Ella’s performances,  Live at the Cannes Jazz Festival France July 8, 1958 Midnight Sun (Lional Hampton and Sonny Burke)

Apart from Carnegie Hall, Ella travelled the world and performed in Europe at the most prestigious venues including the Royal Albert Hall in London, several major events in Germany including at The Musikhalle in Hamburg, the Palais des Congres in Paris, Teatro Manzoni in Milan, Circo Massimo in Rome and yearly at the Montreux Jazz Festival. She delighted audiences in Canada, Belgium, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Serbia and Japan.  Here is one Ella live in Berlin in 1968. For Once in My Life (Ron Miller and Orlando Murden)

What a legacy this incredible woman left behind not just in the songs and music but in her contribution to society and the welfare of others.  Ella died at her home on June 15, 1996 age 79 and to end this tribute to the First Lady of Song one of the best versions of Cry Me a River (Arthur Hamilton).

Goodnight Ella.

Additional sources and photographs

The previous posts on the Ella Fitzgerald story are here.

William Price King – Jazz composer, musician and singer.


William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Links to website –
Facebook –
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue –



12 thoughts on “Summer Jazz – William Price King meets Ella Fitzgerald – The Final Performance

  1. Pingback: Summer Jazz – William Price King meets Ella Fitzgerald – The Final Performance | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up- Autumn Promotions – Poke Salad – George the Service Dog | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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