Born Ella Mae Jackson in Darlington, South Carolina, United States, she joined her brother Buddy Johnson in New York as a teenager, where he was leading a popular band at the Savoy Ballroom. Her singing drew comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.
Johnson scored her first hit with "Please, Mr. Johnson" in 1940. Subsequent hits included "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?", "When My Man Comes Home" and "Hittin' On Me". Her popular 1945 recording of "Since I Fell for You", composed by her brother, led to its eventual establishment as a jazz standard.
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- Swing Me (Mercury/Verve, 1956)
- The Nearness of You (Muse, 1978), With Houston Person
- Buddy Johnson Orchestra: Rockin' n' Rollin' Featuring Ella Johnson (Collectables), With Buddy Johnson Orchestra
- Buddy Johnson Orchestra: Gotta Go Upside.. (Bandstand)
- Buddy Johnson Orchestra: Jukebox Hits: 1940-1951 (Acrobat)
- Say Ella (Juke Box, 1983)
- Buddy and Ella Johnson - 1953-1963 (Bear Family Records, 4-CD-Set)
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