5 Questions: Geoffrey Mark
Bestselling author, Emmy Award winner and Grammy nominee Geoffrey Mark has diligently put together the ultimate “Ella” biography, covering not only her entire career with many never-before seen photos, interviews and anecdotes, but delivering for the first time the true, untold story of Ella Fitzgerald — the woman.
In addition to the book, there is a Deluxe Edition with an exclusive two-CD set, proceeds from which will benefit The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.
Geoffrey Mark: I like to write about people who are the best at what they do. Ella was definitely the best!
What do you feel is new about your Ella biography?
GM: Everything! Nothing has been written about her personal life. We didn’t know who she was as a woman, as a female musician or about the lessons that Marilyn Monroe taught her. What it must have been like for a women in her position, who was traveling the world and never home. What did she do for companionship? How did she overcome rape? There is so much in this book that has never been written before.
In doing research for the book, was it difficult getting people to open up to you?
GM: No, in the beginning, it was originally authorized by Ella. This book has been in the works for over 30 years. Her charity foundation has given me a lot of support. Everyone that I have reached out to has been very supported. They are happy to help keep her legacy and music alive.
Is there anything you found to be surprising about Ella?
GM: I did. I learned about how she was raped and tortured by more than one person while growing up. I loved how she didn’t let herself become a victim. Unfortunately, the same thing happened to me. I really felt the connection to her. We endured the same behavior and we chose not to become victims. The greatest revenge is to live a better life and not let it define who you are.
What makes “Ella” a good biography?
GM: When you are reading about Ella’s life, you are reading all the best parts of early 20th-century Hollywood. She is a pop star, jazz star and TV star. When she first became a star, she was Beyoncé. She is and will always be the heart and soul of music.