Tina May

One LP: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook

I can remember a light bulb moment when I heard it. I was about seven and it was an LP – a double LP – of Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, with the Duke Ellington Big Band and everything…all the stars in that band. I’d never heard anything like it.

And hearing the track that really changed my life, that made me want to sing like that – because I’d never heard anything like it – was Take The ‘A’ Train.’  And she’s doing, you know, train noises (sings train noise) and you think ‘what’s that?’.

I made my mum play it like 10 times in a row and it was absolutely life changing. I still love it.

Earlier on my dad, who loved to play stride piano himself, turned me on to Fats Waller. I love Fats Waller and I loved his humour but for the female voice it’s always been Ella for me. I love Ella and this album was the defining moment – ‘Ooh I like this, I want to be part of this’, you know.

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