My whole family could sing. My family harmonized without any instruments to accompany them.
It has been an ache and a joy both to look over this big shoulder of mine at all my yesterdays.
After years in white theaters I dreaded working in colored houses. The noise, the stomping, whistling, and cheering that hadn't annoyed me when I was young was now something I dreaded.
We never had a bathtub. Mom would bathe me in the wooden or tin washtub in the kitchen, or in a big lard can.
I never felt I belonged. I was always an outsider.
New York is only 97 miles from Philadelphia but was the Big Time as no other American city has ever been.
I've never been able to feel that there is anything undignified about making your living by the sweat of your brow.
Basically there is no difference between whites and blacks, browns and yellows. I decided to think no more of people as Northerners and Southerners.
Whenever I played Columbus, Ohio, I dropped in to see my close friend, a medium who had mysterious powers. Her Indian guide was Mohawk.
Mom never quit on me. My only regret is that she didn't live long enough to share some of the money and comforts my work in show business has brought me.
Nothing can beat the smell of dew and flowers and the odor that comes out of the earth when the sun goes down.
When you dominate other people's emotions, the time has to come when you will have to pay, and heavily, for that privilege.
The big compliment came from the beer drinkers who didn't know me. They wouldn't drink or move when I sang. If they had their glasses in mid-air, the glasses wouldn't come down.
No one in the world can beat Ella Fitzgerald as a riff singer.
All the men in my life have been two things: an epic and an epidemic.
Somehow, the things my mother wanted to do, the release in evangelism she sought with such frenzy, were transferred to me.
The white audiences thought I was white, my features being what they are, and at every performance I'd have to take off my gloves to prove I was a spade.
You are a person of the greatest importance when you are a mother of a family. Just do your job right and your kids will love you.
I want affection and tenderness desperately, but there's something in me that prevents me from handing it out.
We are all gifted. That is our inheritance.