Daylight Video

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, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.