Seventy-nine years ago today, a nervous teenaged orphan named Ella Fitzgerald performed at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater, deciding at the last minute to sing rather than dance. It was a smart move.

Here’s Ella with her first big hit, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.