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 –



A Man and his Music – William Price King meets Sir George Shearing – The Finale

We now move into the final part of the Sir George Shearing story and as well as some more of his legendary performances and collaborations it is also time to share the honours and tributes that he received from governments, fellow musicians and his fans.

Over to William Price King…

In May 1975, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Music from Westminster College in Salt Lake City and the Horatio Alger Award for Distinguished Americans in 1978. Other honorary doctorates in music followed in 1994 from Hamilton College in upstate New York and DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana in 2002.

Here is an early version of Conception by the George Shearing Quintet.

His origins in the UK were not forgotten and in 1993 he was presented with the Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement. This was followed in 1996 by one of the top honours that can be bestowed on a British citizen when he was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. In the November of that year he was invested by her majesty at Buckingham Palace with an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for his services to music and Anglo-US relations.

Here is Mel Torme and George Shearing with A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. Written in 1939 with lyrics by Eric Maschwitz and music by Manning Sherwin. Recorded in 1989.

In 1999, his 80th birthday was celebrated in England where he played to a sold-out house at the Birmingham Symphony Hall. Also appearing with him were the BBC Big Band, the strings of the London Symphony, Dame Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. BBC Radio 2 presented a 2 1/2-hour “Salute to Shearing” in honor of his birthday.

His US fans and musical collaborators were not to be outdone and the next year there was another sold-out birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall featuring the George Shearing Quintet with Nancy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Dr. Billy Taylor, the John Pizzarelli Trio, and Tito Puente.

A reminder of the George Shearing Latin magic with Woodwinds and Brazilian Rhythm
Album:“George Shearing / Shearing Bossa NovaOne Note Samba

At age 85, George released his memoirs, Lullaby of Birdland, which was accompanied by a double-album “musical autobiography”, Lullabies of Birdland. This was immediately followed by two albums Hopeless Romantics with Michael Feinstein and the collectors set Mel Tormé & George Shearing The Concord Years.


Another reminder of a great collaboration Nancy Wilson and the George Shearing Orchestra When Sunny Gets Blue…words & music by Jack Segal & Marvin Fisher, 1946.

Unfortunately, George suffered a fall and had to retire from regular performing. Although an American Citizen he and his wife returned to Britain most summers to their home in the Cotswolds and was able to indulge in one of his favourite pastimes, watching cricket.

In 2006 he received news that both delighted and surprised him. In a letter from the Prime Minister’s office he was notified that his name had been submitted to The Queen with a recommendation that Her Majesty confer George with a Knighthood.

When the letter was read to him, George simply said, “I don’t know why I’m getting this honor…..I’ve just been doing what I love to do.” And, when asked by the press how he felt about receiving the highest honor the Queen can give, he replied, “My mind keeps flashing back on my beginnings as pianist playing in a pub for the equivalent of $5.00 a week. What a journey it has been from that pub to Buckingham Palace. Receiving such an honor as a Knighthood might also show young people what can be achieved in life if one learns his craft and follows his dreams.”

Considering his own background as a blind child, the youngest of nine children whose father once delivered coal to Buckingham Palace; it was the culmination of a wonderful, successful and hard working life in music.

In June 13, 2007 George was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace. He became Sir George Shearing “for his contribution to music”,

Here is another one of his spectacular collaborations with Peggy Lee singing Do I Love You written by Cole Porter.

Three presidents have invited Mr. Shearing to play at the White House. Ford, Carter and Reagan. He performed at the Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. He is a member of the Friars Club and the Lotos Club in New York and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.

And, the honours keep coming! Back in New York, on October 21, 2007, the Town Hall Foundation presented Sir George with its Annual Friend of the Arts Award “in recognition and appreciation of his abiding interest in the development, enrichment and support of the arts”. With this award also came a medal plaque, bearing Sir George’s name, being placed on the back of one the seats in the legendary Town Hall.

Sir George and his wife Ellie continued to travel between the UK and New York and it was here on February 14, 2011 at age 91, that he died of congestive heart failure with his family by his side.

Perhaps this is an appropriate track to end on.. Fly Me To The Moon the George Shearing Quintet with the legendary Nat King Cole. The song was written in 1954 by Bart Howard.

Buy his music.

Additional material.

William Price King

cover of Home by William Price King

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 debut jazz album is called ‘Home,’ 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.

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area. His album ‘Home’ is available to download and more details in the Buy Music for Christmas.

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

You can find all of William’s posts in the following Directory including the previous posts on Sir George Shearing.

Over the summer weeks I will be sharing the original series of the Nat King Cole and Mel Torme stories.. William Price King is busy with composing and will be back with a new series on the life of Quincy Jones in September.

Thank you for stopping by and of course do feel free to share and comment..