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November 21, 2013 7:54 AM Daylight Video

By Ed Kilgore

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 is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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