Kennedy Center Ella
As readers of these pages know, I'm a huge fan of Ella Fitzgerald (who I even got to meet briefly backstage of a concert I attended as a kid in 1968 at Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. I still have my trip diary which she signed, and think I posted it here a while back.) So it's a treat to have this video of her Kennedy Center Honor in 1979.
Honestly, I'd have been fine if they did away with their usual format for this and just let her come down on stage and sing for 15 minutes. But at least they have a good amount of her singing in the film tribute -- and there's a great scat passage moment at 8:30 with Duke Ellington at the piano. Happily, though, they have some darn good performers honoring her, at least.
The video opens on the other honoree that night, and her segment doesn't begin until 3:30. But this is one of those times when it's probably best NOT to jump forward, and instead just watch. That's because this is quite a spectacular group of artists being honored. And no, I don't think this is a case of snarking, "Oh, you young whippersnappers today, you think the people they're honoring this year are Greats. No, sirree, Bob, They're not Great, they're just successful stars. These are Greats." I say that because these are not "Greats." These are historical legends.
The five people being honored in this one year alone are (are you ready?) -- Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, Tennessee Williams, Aaron Copland and Martha Graham. Yes, really, That, folks, is YIPES!!!!!!!! And was likely some incredible TV show to watch. If you put together a list of the Top Three American jazz singers, movie actors, playwrights, classical composers and ballet choreographers, there's a reasonable chance some lists would have all these artists on them.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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