Singer Ella Fitzgerald celebrated on what would have been her 100th birthday

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Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon has the latest details.

She was one of the giants of jazz. And Tuesday, fans of Ella Fitzgerald celebrated her legacy on what would have been her 100th birthday.

Ella Fitzgerald first made her mark in Harlem and gave her last concert in Midtown almost 60 years later. Her ties to the city were celebrated at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

High school students born after her death paid her tribute in a way Ella would have appreciated. Joining them was her dear friend Tony Bennett.

She was known as the "The First Lady of Song", and the influence of Ella Fitzgerald was so great she reigned as "The Queen of Jazz" for half a century.

"Anybody that hears her sing that loves music just realizes that she was the best that anybody ever heard," said Bennett.

Success came first at Harlem's Apollo Theater, where Ella won an early amateur night, which is one reason why the 100th anniversary of her birth was proclaimed by the city's mayor as Ella Fitgerald Day.

She was the first African-American woman to win a Grammy award.

"It shows that the rest of the young black women nowadays can do just as much as she did and even aspire to do even more," said high school student Lakia Wright.

With the golden era of jazz now a distant memory, the young people from Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria are the keepers of her flame.

"Like we've sung different songs from her (like 'It Don't mean a Thing' but) you can sing it any different way and it will always be fresh, it will never get old," said high school student Jada Vick.

"It gives me a good sense of where my music comes from because without her, a lot of the songs we have today wouldn't be inspired and like a lot of her songs are sampled still today," said high school student Xavier Means.

A new boxed set of CD's titled "100 Songs for a Centennial" has just been released to mark what would have been Ella Fitzgerald's 100 birthday, and while she would have no doubt been pleased by Tuesday's tribute, the singer was a shy woman who always preferred to let her music speak for itself.
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