It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing

‘It don’t mean a thing
If it ain’t got that swing
(doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah
Doo wah, doo wah, doo wah, doo wah)’

This song was made famous by the most delightful voice and extraordinary singer that ever existed in jazz: Ella Fitzgerald. Like the famous hit from the eighties: ‘Ella elle l’a’. This translates to Ella she’s got it! And girllll did she have it!

She is known for hits such as:

  • Summertime
  • Dream a little dream of me
  • Someone to watch over me
  • Lady is the Tramp
  • My Funny Valentine
  • The Man I love

So let’s talk about Ella this week and what personal branding lesson we can learn from her. Because her story is very special and inspirational and needs to be told!

Ella was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Connee Boswell of The Boswell Sisters. ‘I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.’ Ella once said.
In 1934 she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in NYC. She was only 17 and won! Here’s the interesting part: she entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music. She joined a band, but even then she was very shy. She kept to herself and dedicated herself to her craft. This worked to her advantage. She became known in the thirties as The First Lady of Song.

Later on she would also act in movies and even became friends with Marilyn Monroe. Of their friendship she said: ‘It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him — and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status — that the press would go wild. The owner said yes and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard… After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again.’

In 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. After that she became a legend and was known as a great singer because of her diverse range. She began as a swing singer, moved to bebop, she sang perfect scat, was an extraordinary jazz vocalist, but also moved along with modern times.

In 1991, Ella who once said: ‘the only thing better than singing is more singing’. Ella passed away in 1996 leaving the world with her beautiful voice as a gift.

What I love about Ella’s story is that it was all about one thing: PASSION.

‘It makes no diff’rence
If it’s sweet or hot
Just give that rhythm
Ev’rything you got

Without passion it doesn’t mean a thing. You have to give all you got! You won’t have a personal brand working for your career if you don’t share it with passion!