Inspirational Women of Virginia

Influential Women who Helped Shape this Great Commonwealth


The Queen of Jazz was a Virginia native, and while known for her voice, the lovely Ella Fitzgerald was a philanthropist and fought for those who did not have a voice in their own communities. Persevering through a troubled childhood, living on the streets at one time, she earned money by singing and went on to become the legendary musician we celebrate today. Despite being relegated to back rooms and ‘Colored Theaters’, The First Lady of Song earned 13 Grammys.

While becoming one of the most successful artists of the 1950’s and 1960s, Ms. Fitzgerald was arrested on occasion of appearing in theaters that attempted to integrate audiences. She was a champion of the Civil Rights Movement and suffered the backlash yet behaved-always-as a lady.  In 1993, she established the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation focusing on charitable grants for the issues she understood were needed most: academic opportunities for children, music education, basic care needs for the less fortunate, and medical research for diabetes, heart disease, and vision impairment. Her goals were to give back and provide opportunities for those “at risk” and less fortunate. We toast Ms. Fitzgerald as one of Virginia’s most influential women.  

Learn more about Ella Fitzgerald here…