When She Forgets The Lyrics Mid-Performance, Ella’s Hasty Improvisation Leaves Us Amazed

Proving that “the show must always go on,” jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald doesn’t miss a beat after she forgets the lyrics mid-performance. In a genre where improvisation reigns supreme, Fitzgerald certainly takes the crown.

In this clip from her 1960 West Berlin performance, Ella Fitzgerald stuns audience members with her singing chops and off the cuff solos. But her quick thinking has never been put to a test quite like this as she fails to remember the lyrics halfway through a song.

The standard she is riffing on is the 1928 show tune “Mack The Knife” made popular by fellow jazz stars, Bobby Darrin and Louis Armstrong. However, it seems that this might be a newly added piece to her repertoire, because, after only getting halfway through the number, she can’t remember what comes next.

The next two minutes are an amazing impromptu solo filled with vocal freestyling, scat-singing, comedic bits, and even a spot-on Louis Armstrong impersonation. It’s performances like this that have secured Fitzgerald a place in jazz history, and we can’t believe her talent.