The Festival International de Jazz de Montréal is delighted to present the Ella Fitzgerald Award to Diana Ross, for her extraordinary contribution to contemporary jazz vocals. The award was presented to her by Alain Simard, president and founder of the Festival, and André Ménard, artistic director and co-founder of the Festival, last evening (July 3rd) at 10 p.m. during a private meeting in the Place des Arts’ Salon vert (Green Room) after her concert in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier (Événements spéciaux TD series).

Diana Ross is the 16th winner of the Ella Fitzgerald Award. The Festival created the award for its 20th anniversary in 1999, annually conferring it upon a jazz singer of significant talent who has had a major impact and influence in the international scene.

A Diva with a capital D if ever there were one, showbiz icon and genuine living legend, Diana Ross couldn’t have offered us a better gift than this very first visit the Festival—for its 35th birthday! The incarnation of glamour to the very tips of her fingers, winner of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Diana Ross’ career is a musical odyssey that stretches over 50 years, including Motown classics Where Did Our Love Go, Love Child, Stop! in the Name of Love and I Hear a Symphony, dance smashes Love Hangover, Upside Down, Touch Me in the Morning and One Love in my Lifetime, the jazz of Lady Sings the Blues and the theme song of Mahogany, Do You Know Where You’re Going To.

Add in 100 million albums sold, eighteen #1 songs, 8 American Music Awards… it’s impossible to imagine a more gold-plated CV!

The famed singer arrived as part of her In the Name of Love tour, accompanied by a full 15-piece orchestra (Opening act: her daughter, Rhonda Ross). July 3 and 4, 7:30 p.m., Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Événements spéciaux TD series.

In accepting the prize, Diana Ross will be following previous Ella Fitzgerald prizewinners Holly Cole (2013), Liza Minnelli (2012), Sade (2011), The Manhattan Transfer (2010), John Pizzarelli (2009), Aretha Franklin (2008), Harry Connick, Jr., (2007), Etta James (2006), Al Jarreau (2005) Tony Bennett (2004), Bobby McFerrin (2003), Dianne Reeves (2002), Diana Krall (2001), Dee Dee Bridgewater (2000) and Diane Schuur (1999).

“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.”

Maya Angelou has passed, but her legacy is left intact. This renowned poet, novelist and actress, whose work defied description under a simple label, has touched so many lives and she continues to educate us.

Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’ 

A professor, singer and dancer, Angelou’s work spans several professions. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded her with the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honour.

Angelou who spent her early years studying dance and drama in San Francisco, dropped out at age 14, but returned to high school to finish her diploma. She gave to her son a few weeks after graduation.

At age 17,  Maya waited tables to support her son. She  acquired a passion for dance and music and toured Europe in the 1950’s in the opera production “Porgy and Bess”

Her list of accomplishments goes on and on…

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

#LiteraryIcon #NobelLaureate

Rest In Peace Maya Angelou.